A lucerne (alfalfa, Medicago sativa) stem cDNA library was screened with a cinnamyl-alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD) cDNA probe from tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Samsun). Two distinctly different cDNA clones (54% identical) were isolated and identified as putative CAD-encoding cDNAs by comparison of their nucleotide sequences with those of CAD-encoding DNA sequences from other plant species. One of the cDNAs, MsaCad2, was found to be 99.4% identical at the nucleotide level to the previously isolated lucerne cad cDNA which encodes a CAD isoform involved in lignin biosynthesis. The other cDNA, MsaCad1, has not been reported previously in lucerne, and encodes a protein related to the ELI3 class of elicitor-inducible defence-related plant proteins. The MsaCad1- and MsaCad2-encoded proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli and CAD1 was shown to be active with a range of cinnamyl, benzyl and aliphatic aldehyde substrates, while CAD2 was specific for the cinnamyl aldehydes only. Each of the respective genes is present as one or two copies. The MsaCad1 gene is expressed most actively in stem and floral tissue, whereas MsaCad2 is most actively expressed in stem, hypocotyl and root tissue. In stem tissue, expression of both genes occurs predominantly in internodes 4 and 5 (from the apex). MsaCad2, in contrast to MsaCad1, is not significantly expressed in the top three internodes of the stem. Both MsaCad1 and MsaCad2 are wound-inducible, and the wound-responsiveness of each gene is modulated by salicylic acid.
- Cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase
- Stem abundant cDNA
- Substrate specificity
- Wound induction