2Institute of Genetics, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 20043, China
3Vitegen LLC, Cary, NC27519, USA
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received January 13, 2011; Revision received February 5, 2011
# These authors contributed equally to this work.
Dehydrins are groups of plant proteins that have been shown to response to various environmental stimuli such as dehydration, elevated salinity, and low temperature. However, their roles in plant defense against microbes have not been demonstrated. In an attempt to discover plant antimicrobial proteins, we have screened a rice cDNA library and isolated several cDNAs coding for dehydrins. Protein extracts from Escherichia coli expressing these cDNAs were tested for their activity against Gram-positive bacteria (Bacillus pumilus, B. subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Sarcina lutea) and Gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli and Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae). The results indicate that the crude protein extracts exhibited antibacterial activities against the Gram-positive bacteria. However, dehydrins purified by immunoaffinity chromatography were not active against the bacteria. To pinpoint the dehydrin peptides that were responsible for the bactericidal activity, we expressed DNA sequences coding for truncated dehydrins containing either K- or S-segment and found that K-segment peptides, and not S-segment, were responsible for the antibacterial activities against Gram-positive bacteria. Antibacterial assay with synthetic K-segments indicated that the peptides inhibited growth of B. pumilus with minimum inhibition concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration of 130 and 400 μg/ml, respectively.
KEY WORDS: dehydrin, antimicrobial peptide, antibacterial activity, K-segment, rice