Bacterial chitinase is modified and secreted in transgenic tobacco

P Lund, R Y Lee, P Dunsmuir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The chiA gene of Serratia marcescens codes for a secreted protein, bacterial chitinase (ChiA). We have investigated the modifications and the cellular location of ChiA when it is expressed in transgenic tobacco plants. Immunoblots on total leaf protein probed with antibody to ChiA showed that when the bacterial chitinase is expressed in plants, it migrates as a series of discrete bands with either the same or a slower mobility than the secreted bacterial protein. Analysis of the vacuum infiltrate of leaves expressing ChiA showed that the modified forms of the protein are enriched in the intercellular fluid. Media recovered from suspension cultures of cell lines expressing the chiA gene were also enriched for the modified forms of ChiA. Washed protoplasts, however, contained only the nonmodified form. The molecular weight of these polypeptides is reduced by treatment with glycopeptidase F but not with endoglycosidase H. Treatment of the suspension cultures with tunicamycin also leads to reduction in the molecular weight of the chitinase bands. We suggest that some of the ChiA protein is N-glycosylated and secreted when expressed in plants, and that the modifications are complex glycans. These results show that a bacterial signal sequence can function in plant cells, and that protein secretion from plant cells probably operates by a default pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-5
Number of pages6
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1989


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