Trichome-specific expression of the amorpha-4,11-diene 12-hydroxylase (cyp71av1) gene, encoding a key enzyme of artemisinin biosynthesis in Artemisia annua, as reported by a promoter-GUS fusion
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Artemisinin derivatives are effective anti-malarial drugs. In order to design transgenic plants of Artemisia annua with enhanced biosynthesis of artemisinin, we are studying the promoters of genes encoding enzymes involved in artemisinin biosynthesis. A 1,151 bp promoter region of the cyp71av1 gene, encoding amorpha-4,11-diene 12-hydroxylase, was cloned. Alignment of the cloned promoter and other cyp71av1 promoter sequences indicated that the cyp71av1 promoter may be different in different A. annua varieties. Comparison to the promoter of amorpha-4,11-diene synthase gene showed a number of putative cis-acting regulatory elements in common, suggesting a co-regulation of the two genes. The cyp71av1 promoter sequence was fused to the β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene and two varieties of A. annua and Nicotiana tabacum were transformed. In A. annua, GUS expression was exclusively localized to glandular secretory trichomes (GSTs) of leaf primordia and top expanded leaves. In older leaves, there is a shift of expression to T-shaped trichomes (TSTs). Only TSTs showed GUS staining in lower leaves and there is no GUS staining in old leaves. GUS expression in flower buds was specifically localized to GSTs. The recombinant promoter carries the cis-acting regulatory elements required for GST-specific expression. The cyp71av1 promoter shows activity in young tissues. The recombinant promoter was up to 200 times more active than the wild type promoter. GUS expression in transgenic N. tabacum was localized to glandular heads. Transcript levels were up-regulated by MeJA. Wound responsiveness experiment showed that the cyp71av1 promoter does not appear to play any role in the response of A. annua to mechanical stress.