Molecular Biotechnology

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 194–202 | Cite as

Tissue-Preferential Activity and Induction of the Pepper Capsaicin Synthase PUN1 Promoter by Wounding, Heat and Metabolic Pathway Precursor in Tobacco and Tomato Plants

  • Justin Kirke
  • Noah Kaplan
  • Stephanie Velez
  • Xiao-Lu Jin
  • Paveena Vichyavichien
  • Xing-Hai Zhang
Original Paper


A promoter is an essential structural component of a gene that controls its transcription activity in different development stages and in response to various environmental stimuli. Knowledge of promoter functionality in heterologous systems is important in the study of gene regulation and biotechnological application. In order to explore the activity of the pepper capsaicin synthase gene (PUN1) promoter, gene constructs of pPUN1::GUS (for β-glucuronidase) and pPUN1::NtKED (for a tobacco wound-responsive protein) were introduced into tobacco and tomato, respectively, and their activities were examined. Higher levels of GUS staining intensity and transcription were detected in ovary, anther and pollen than other tissues or organs in tobacco plants. Likewise, transgenic tomato fruits had a higher level of pPUN1::NtKED gene expression than the leaf and flower. The PUN1-driven gene expression can be transiently induced by wounding, heat (40 °C) and the capsaicinoid biosynthetic pathway precursor phenylalanine. When compared to the reported pPUN1::GUS-expressing Arabidopsis, the PUN1 promoter exhibited a more similar pattern of activities among pepper, tobacco and tomato, all Solanaceae plants. Our results suggest the potential utility of this tissue-preferential and inducible promoter in other non-pungent Solanaceae plants for research of gene function and regulation as well as in the biotechnological applications.


β-glucuronidase (GUS) Capsaicinoid biosynthetic pathway Phenylalanine Promoter of pepper capsaicin synthase (PUN1Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) wound-responsive protein NtKED Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum



The work was supported in part by a Florida Atlantic University Undergraduate Research Grant to JK and SV. We thank Dr. Yu-Bin Zhang (Guangdong Ocean University, China) for help with statistical analysis, and Dr. Jack Widholm (University of Illinois, USA) for reviewing this manuscript.

Authors’ Contributions

XHZ conceived and designed the experiments. JK, NK, SV, XLJ, PV and XHZ performed the experiments. XHZ wrote the manuscript with comments from all co-authors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12033_2018_60_MOESM1_ESM.docx (126 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 126 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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