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Using the technique of differential display, a maize transcript was identified whose silk tissue expression is induced in the presence of the ear rot pathogen Fusarium graminearum. The 3445 nt transcript includes a 727 nt 5' untranslated leader with the potential for extensive secondary structure and represents the maize gene An2. An2 encodes a copalyl diphosphate synthase (CPS)-like protein with 60% amino acid sequence identity with the maize An1 gene product involved in gibberellin (GA) biosynthesis. Recombinant expression and functional analysis demonstrated that both AN1 and AN2 are ent-copalyl diphosphate (ent-CPP) synthases (ent-CPS). Notably, the presence of an additional ent-CPS gene is consistent with previous reports that maize GA biosynthesis can proceed in the absence of An1. In addition, northern blot analysis showed that An2 transcript levels were strongly up-regulated by Fusarium attack, with an increase in silk, husk and ear tip tissues as early as 6 h after inoculation of silk channels with spore suspensions of various Fusarium sp. Gene expression of a third maize CPS-like gene, Cpsl1, is not affected by Fusarium infection. The Fusarium-inducible nature of An2 is also consistent with a previous report that cell-free extracts from maize seedlings produce ent-CPP derived diterpenes in response to Fusarium infection. However, it is not known whether An2 is involved in defense-related secondary metabolism in addition to GA synthesis.


L J Harris, A Saparno, A Johnston, S Prisic, M Xu, S Allard, A Kathiresan, T Ouellet, R J Peters. The maize An2 gene is induced by Fusarium attack and encodes an ent-copalyl diphosphate synthase. Plant molecular biology. 2005 Dec;59(6):881-94

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PMID: 16307364

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