Caspase-like activity in the seedlings of Pisum sativum eliminates weaker shoots during early vegetative development by induction of cell death

Beatrice Belenghi, Mazal Salomon, Alex Levine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Activation of aspartate-specific cysteine proteases (caspases) plays a crucial role in programmed cell death (PCD) in animals. Although to date caspases have not been identified in plants, caspase-like activity was described in tobacco during a hypersensitive response to pathogens and in Arabidopsis and tomato cell cultures during chemical-induced PCD. Caspase-like activity was also detected in the course of plant development during petal senescence and endosperm PCD. It is shown here that caspase-like proteases play a crucial role in the developmental cell death of secondary shoots of pea seedlings that emerge after removal of the epicotyl. Caspase-like activity was induced in senescing secondary shoots, but not in dominant growing shoots, in contrast to the papain-like cysteine protease activity that was stronger in the dominant shoot. Revitalization of the senescing shoot by cutting of the dominant shoot reduced the caspase-like activity. Injection of caspase or cysteine protease inhibitors into the remaining epicotyl tissue suppressed the death of the secondary shoots, producing seedlings with two equal shoots. These results suggest that shoot selection in pea seedlings is controlled by PCD, through the activation of caspase-like proteases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)889-897
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Volume55
Issue number398
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2004

Keywords

  • Apical dominance
  • Cysteine proteases
  • Epicotyl
  • Senescence
  • Shoot development

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