Molecular cloning of a plant betaine-aldehyde dehydrogenase, an enzyme implicated in adaptation to salinity and drought.
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Many plants, as well as other organisms, accumulate betaine (N,N,N-trimethylglycine) as a nontoxic or protective osmolyte under saline or dry conditions. In plants, the last step in betaine synthesis is catalyzed by betaine-aldehyde dehydrogenase (BADH, EC 220.127.116.11), a nuclear-encoded chloroplastic enzyme. A cDNA clone for BADH (1812 base pairs) was selected from a lambda gt10 cDNA library derived from leaves of salt-stressed spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). The library was screened with oligonucleotide probes corresponding to amino acid sequences of two peptides prepared from purified BADH. The authenticity of the clone was confirmed by nucleotide sequence analysis; this analysis demonstrated the presence of a 1491-base-pair open reading frame that contained sequences encoding 12 peptide fragments of BADH. The clone hybridized to a 1.9-kilobase mRNA from spinach leaves; this mRNA was more abundant in salt-stressed plants, consistent with the known salt induction of BADH activity. The amino acid sequence deduced from the BADH cDNA sequence showed substantial similarities to those for nonspecific aldehyde dehydrogenases (EC 18.104.22.168 and EC 22.214.171.124) from several sources, including absolute conservation of a decapeptide in the probable active site. Comparison of deduced and determined amino acid sequences indicated that the transit peptide may comprise only 7 or 8 residues, which is atypically short for precursors to stromal proteins.
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