Salicylic Acid Induced Cysteine Protease Activity During Programmed Cell Death in Tomato Plants


The hypersensitive response (HR), a type of programmed cell death (PCD) during biotic stress is mediated by salicylic acid (SA). The aim of this work was to reveal the role of proteolysis and cysteine proteases in the execution of PCD in response of SA. Tomato plants were treated with sublethal (0.1 mM) and lethal (1 mM) SA concentrations through the root system. Treatment with 1 mM SA increased the electrolyte leakage and proteolytic activity and reduced the total protein content of roots after 6 h, while the proteolytic activity did not change in the leaves and in plants exposed to 0.1 mM SA. The expression of the papain-type cysteine protease SlCYP1, the vacuolar processing enzyme SlVPE1 and the tomato metacaspase SlMCA1 was induced within the first three hours in the leaves and after 0.5 h in the roots in the presence of 1 mM SA but the transcript levels did not increase significantly at sublethal SA. The Bax inhibitor-1 (SlBI-1), an antiapoptotic gene was over-expressed in the roots after SA treatments and it proved to be transient in the presence of sublethal SA. Protease inhibitors, SlPI2 and SlLTC were upregulated in the roots by sublethal SA but their expression remained low at 1 mM SA concentration. It is concluded that in contrast to leaves the SA-induced PCD is associated with increased proteolytic activity in the root tissues resulting from a fast up-regulation of specific cysteine proteases and down-regulation of protease inhibitors.


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Correspondence to Irma Tari.

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Kovács, J., Poór, P., Szepesi, Á. et al. Salicylic Acid Induced Cysteine Protease Activity During Programmed Cell Death in Tomato Plants. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 67, 148–158 (2016).

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  • Bax Inhibitor 1
  • cysteine protease
  • programmed cell death
  • salicylic acid
  • tomato