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The AFN1 gene is transiently expressed in germinating oat grains. As AFN1 is not expressed in dormant oat grains during imbibition, we hypothesize that AFN1 may be involved in stimulating the germination process. Sequence analysis of an AFN1 cDNA clone indicates that the AFN1 polypeptide is similar to a previously identified abscisic acid (ABA) glucosyl transferase. This suggests that AFN1 may be acting to glucosylate ABA, thereby inactivating it. As the hormone ABA is known to inhibit germination, ABA glucosylation/inactivation could lead to germination in grains expressing AFN1. To test this hypothesis, we have constructed an expression plasmid that encodes an MBP::AFN1 (maltose binding protein) fusion protein. E. coli cells carrying the expression plasmid were found to produce the MBP::AFN1 fusion protein as a substantial fraction of total protein. We are currently in the process of purifying the MBP::AFN1 fusion protein by affinity chromatography, so that it can be assayed for ABA glucosyl transferase activity. We also wish to test the effect of AFN1 gene expression during grain imbibition on the germination behavior of the grains. To this end, we have constructed plasmids for the overexpression and RNAi-based suppression of AFN1 in transgenic plants. These plasmids have been introduced into oat cells by particle bombardment and we are in the process of regenerating transgenic plants for study.


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