Nectarin IV, a potent endoglucanase inhibitor secreted into the nectar of ornamental tobacco plants. Isolation, cloning, and characterization

S. M.Saqlan Naqvi, April Harper, Clay Carter, Gang Ren, Adel Guirgis, William S. York, Robert W. Thornburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


We have isolated and characterized the Nectarin IV (NEC4) protein that accumulates in the nectar of ornamental tobacco plants (Nicotiana langsdorffii × Nicotiana sanderae var LxS8). This 60-kD protein has a blocked N terminus. Three tryptic peptides of the protein were isolated and sequenced using tandem mass spectroscopy. These unique peptides were found to be similar to the xyloglucan-specific fungal endoglucanase inhibitor protein (XEGIP) precursor in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) and its homolog in potato (Solanum tuberosum). A pair of oligonucleotide primers was designed based on the potato and tomato sequences that were used to clone a 1,018-bp internal piece of nec4 cDNA from a stage 6 nectary cDNA library. The remaining portions of the cDNA were subsequently captured by 5′ and 3′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends. Complete sequencing of the nec4 cDNA demonstrated that it belonged to a large family of homologous proteins from a wide variety of angiosperms. Related proteins include foliage proteins and seed storage proteins. Based upon conserved identity with the wheat (Triticum aestivum) xylanase inhibitor TAXI-1, we were able to develop a protein model that showed that NEC4 contains additional amino acid loops that are not found in TAXI-1 and that glycosylation sites are surface exposed. Both these loops and sites of glycosylation are on the opposite face of the NEC4 molecule from the site that interacts with fungal hemicellulases, as indicated by homology to TAXI-I. NEC4 also contains a region homologous to the TAXI-1 knottin domain; however, a deletion in this domain restructures the disulfide bridges of this domain, resulting in a pseudoknottin domain. Inhibition assays were performed to determine whether purified NEC4 was able to inhibit fungal endoglucanases and xylanases. These studies showed that NEC4 was a very effective inhibitor of a family GH12 xyloglucan-specific endoglucanase with a Ki of 0.35 nM. However, no inhibitory activity was observed against other family GH10 or GH11 xylanases. The patterns of expression of the NEC4 protein indicate that, while expressed in nectar at anthesis, it is most strongly expressed in the nectary gland after fertilization, indicating that inhibition of fungal cell wall-degrading enzymes may be more important after fertilization than before.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1389-1400
Number of pages12
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Nectarin IV, a potent endoglucanase inhibitor secreted into the nectar of ornamental tobacco plants. Isolation, cloning, and characterization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this