Arginine decarboxylase (ADC) and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) are two important enzymes responsible for putrescine biosynthesis. In this study, a full-length ADC cDNA (MdADC) was isolated from apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.]. Meanwhile, a partial ODC (pMdODC) could be amplified only by a second RCR from the RT-PCR products, whereas a full-length ODC could not be obtained by either cDNA library screening or 5′- and 3′-RACEs, suggesting quite low expression. Moreover, D-arginine, an ADC inhibitor, caused a decrease in ADC activity and severely inhibited the growth of apple callus, which could be partially resumed by exogenous addition of putrescine, whereas α-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), an inhibitor for ODC, caused the incomplete repression of callus growth without changing ODC activity. RNA gel blot showed that the expression level of MdADC was high in young tissues/organs with rapid cell division and was positively induced by chilling, salt, and dehydration, implying its involvement in both cell growth and these stress responses. By contrast, the transcript of ODC could not be detected by RNA gel blot analysis. Based on the present study, it is possible to conclude that (i) the ODC pathway is active in apple, although the expression level of the pMdODC gene homologous with its counterparts found in other plant species is quite low; and (H) MdADC expression correlates with cell growth and stress responses to chilling, salt, and dehydration, suggesting that ADC is a primary biosynthetic pathway for putrescine biosynthesis in apple.
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