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Recombinant expression, affinity purification and functional characterization of Scots pine defensin 1

Kovaleva, Valentina, Krynytskyy, Hryhoriy, Gout, Ivan, Gout, Roman
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2011 v.89 no.4 pp. 1093-1101
Heterobasidion annosum, Pinus sylvestris, amino acids, antifungal properties, antimicrobial peptides, fungi, germination, immunity, mass spectrometry, molecular cloning, molecular weight, open reading frames, pathogens, polyclonal antibodies, proteins, proteolysis, seedlings, signal peptide
Plants produce a variety of molecules to defend themselves from fungal pathogens. Defensins belong to the family of antimicrobial peptides that play a central role in innate immunity in all species of plants. We have previously reported the purification of antimicrobial peptides from Scots pine seedlings and the identification of some of them, including defensin, by mass spectrometry. In this study, we extend our original study on molecular cloning of Pinus sylvestris defensin 1 (PsDef1) by presenting the expression and affinity purification of recombinant defensin 1 (rPsDef1). The full-length coding sequence of PsDef1 has an open reading frame capable to encode a protein of 83 amino residues, including a signal peptide of 33 aa, followed by a characteristic defensin domain of 50 amino acids representing its active form. The calculated molecular weight of the mature form of PsDef1 is 5,601.6 Da. We have employed pET system to express mature form of PsDef1 fussed to GST. As GST-PsDef1 fusion protein was not biologically active, we removed GST moiety from the mature defensin 1 peptide by proteolytic cleavage with Factor Xa. The resulting rPsDef1 protein exhibited strong antifungal activity against a panel of pathogenic fungi which is comparable to that of endogenous Scots pine defensin 1. In addition, rPsDef1 was used to produce specific polyclonal antibodies. Using generated antibodies, we found that the level of PsDef1 is significantly increased in Scots pine seedlings during germination and in their response to pathogenic infection with Heterobasidion annosum.