Molecular Analysis of a New Member of the Opium Poppy Tyrosine/3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine Decarboxylase Gene Family Academic Article uri icon


  • An aromatic amino acid decarboxylase DNA fragment was generated from opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) genomic DNA by the PCR using primers designed from conserved amino acid sequences of other aromatic amino acid decarboxylase genes. Using this fragment as a probe, a genomic clone was isolated that encodes a new member of the opium poppy tyrosine/3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine decarboxylase gene family (TyDC5). The predicted TyDC5 amino acid sequence shares extensive identity with other opium poppy tyrosine/3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine decarboxylases (84%), and when expressed in Escherichia coli, it is active against tyrosine and to a lesser extent against 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine. Ribonuclease protection assays indicate that TyDC5 is expressed primarily in the roots of mature poppy plants. A peak of TyDC5 expression was also observed during germination, coincident with the emergence of the radicle from the seed coat. Parallel results were obtained in transgenic tobacco using a TyDC5 promoter fragment (-2060) translationally fused to the beta-glucuronidase reporter gene (GUS). IN TyDC5::GUS tobacco, GUS activity transiently appeared in all parts of the seedling during germination, but was limited to the roots in older plants. These results indicate that TyDC5 expression is transcriptionally regulated and suggest that the TyDC5 enzyme may play an important role in providing precursors for alkaloid synthesis in the roots and germinating seedlings of opium poppy.

author list (cited authors)

  • Maldonado-Mendoza, I. E., Lopez-Meyer, M., Galef, J. R., Burnett, R. J., & Nessler, C. L.

citation count

  • 22

publication date

  • January 1996