In higher plants, the membrane lipids contain a high proportion of trienoic fatty acids. It has been suggested that these fatty acids, especially linotenic acid, play an important role as a precursor to a defense-related signal molecule, jasmonate. In Arabidopsis, three genes encoding the ω-3 fatty acid desaturase, namely, FAD3, FAD7 and FADS, are responsible for the production of trienoic fatty acids. The FAD3 enzyme is localized in microsomes, while the FAD7 and the FAD8 enzymes are localized in plastid membranes. Environmental stimuli, such as wounding, salt stress and pathogen invasion, which lead to a rapid increase in jasmonate production, significantly induce expression of the FAD7 and FAD8 genes. Recent findings have supported the view that plastids are involved in jasmonate production. We have been able to clarify the regulatory mechanism of a plastid ω-3 desaturase gene by analyzing the Arabidopsis FAD7 promoter with respect to tissue-specific, light-responsive and wound-induced expression. In particular, this promoter provides a unique model for studying the mechanism of transcriptional activation through wound signal transduction pathways.
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