The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens infects plants and introduces the transferred-DNA (T-DNA) region of the Ti-plasmid into nuclear DNA of host plants to induce the formation of tumors (crown galls). The T-DNA region carries iaaM and iaaH genes for synthesis of the plant hormone auxin, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). It has been demonstrated that the iaaM gene encodes a tryptophan 2-monooxygenase which catalyzes the conversion of tryptophan to indole-3-acetamide (IAM), and the iaaH gene encodes an amidase for subsequent conversion of IAM to IAA. In this article, we demonstrate that A. tumefaciens enhances the production of both IAA and phenylacetic acid (PAA), another auxin which does not show polar transport characteristics, in the formation of crown galls. Using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy, we found that the endogenous levels of phenylacetamide (PAM) and PAA metabolites, as well as IAM and IAA metabolites, are remarkably increased in crown galls formed on the stem of tomato plants, implying that two distinct auxins are simultaneously synthesized via the IaaM-IaaH pathway. Moreover, we found that the induction of the iaaM gene dramatically elevated the levels of PAM, PAA and its metabolites, along with IAM, IAA and its metabolites, in Arabidopsis and barley. From these results, we conclude that A. tumefaciens enhances biosynthesis of two distinct auxins in the formation of crown galls.
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