Esculentin-1 is a 46-residue antimicrobial peptide present in skin secretions of Rana esculenta. It is effective against a wide variety of micro-organisms, including plant pathogens with negligible effects on eukaryotic cells. As a possible approach to enhance plant resistance, a DNA coding for esculentin-1, with the substitution Met-28Leu, was fused at the C-terminal end of the leader sequence of endopolygalacturonase-inhibiting protein, under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter region, and introduced into Nicotiana tabacum. The antimicrobial peptide was isolated from the intercellular fluids of healthy leaves of transgenic plants, suggesting that it was properly processed, secreted outside cells and accumulated in the intercellular spaces. The morphology of transgenic plants was unaffected. Challenging these plants with bacterial or fungal phytopathogens demonstrated enhanced resistance up to the second generation. Moreover, transgenic plants displayed insecticidal properties.

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