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Summary

Allene oxide synthase (AOS) is the first enzyme in the lipoxygenase (LOX) pathway which leads to formation of jasmonic acid (JA). Two full-length cDNAs of AOS designated as AOS1 and AOS2, respectively, were isolated from barley (H. vulgare cv. Salome) leaves, which represent the first AOS clones from a monocotyledonous species. For AOS1, the open reading frame encompasses 1461 bp encoding a polypeptide of 487 amino acids with calculated molecular mass of 53.4 kDa and an isoelectric point of 9.3, whereas the corresponding data of AOS2 are 1443 bp, 480 amino acids, 52.7 kDa and 7.9. Southern blot analysis revealed at least two genes. Despite the lack of a putative chloroplast signal peptide in both sequences, the protein co-purified with chloroplasts and was localized within chloroplasts by immunocytochemical analysis. The barley AOSs, expressed in bacteria as active enzymes, catalyze the dehydration of LOX-derived 9- as well as 13-hydroperoxides of polyenoic fatty acids to the unstable allene oxides. In leaves, AOS mRNA accumulated upon treatment with jasmonates, octadecanoids and metabolizable carbohydrates, but not upon floating on abscisic acid, NaCl, Na-salicylate or infection with powdery mildew. In developing seedlings, AOS mRNA strongly accumulated in the scutellar nodule, but less in the leaf base. Both tissues exhibited elevated JA levels. In situ hybridizations revealed the preferential occurrence of AOS mRNA in parenchymatic cells surrounding the vascular bundles of the scutellar nodule and in the young convoluted leaves as well as within the first internode. The properties of both barley AOSs, their up-regulation of their mRNAs and their tissue specific expression suggest a role during seedling development and jasmonate biosynthesis.