Protective effect of the naturally occurring, biologically active compound S-methylmethionine in maize seedlings exposed to a short period of cold
The work was aimed at investigating short-term metabolic changes caused by S-methylmethionine (SMM) and at clarifying the gene expression background of these changes in order to gain a better understanding of the protective effect of SMM against stress. When examining the expression of genes coding for the enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of polyamines, which play an important role in responses to low temperature stress, and that of the C-repeat binding transcription factor (CBF1) gene, it was found that both SMM and cold treatment increased the expression of genes responsible for the polyamine synthesis pathway starting from arginine. It caused only a slight increase when applied alone, but when SMM pre-treatment was followed by cold stress, it resulted in a considerable extent of up-regulation. SMM caused a similar increase in the expression of CBF1. The changes in the expression of genes responsible for the polyamine synthesis were clearly reflected in changes in the putrescine and agmatine contents, while the greater increase in the spermidine content was indicative of the role of SMM as a direct precursor in spermidine biosynthesis. The results demonstrated that, in addition to its direct effect on the sulphur metabolism and on polyamine biosynthesis, the protective effect of exogenous SMM was chiefly manifested in its influence on the expression of genes responsible for the biosynthesis of the polyamines important for stress responses and on the CBF1 transcription factor gene that acts as a regulator in cold stress.
KeywordsS-methylmethionine cold stress gene expression changes polyamines maize
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