Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Stress inducible proteinase inhibitor diversity in Capsicum annuum

Manasi Mishra1, Neha Mahajan1, Vaijayanti A Tamhane13, Mahesh J Kulkarni1, Ian T Baldwin2, Vidya S Gupta1 and Ashok P Giri1*

Author affiliations

1 Plant Molecular Biology Unit, Division of Biochemical Sciences, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pune, MS, 411 008, India

2 Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, 07745, Germany

3 Present address: Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology, University of Pune, Pune, MS, 411 007, India

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Citation and License

BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:217  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-217

Published: 16 November 2012



Wound-inducible Pin-II Proteinase inhibitors (PIs) are one of the important plant serine PIs which have been studied extensively for their structural and functional diversity and relevance in plant defense against insect pests. To explore the functional specialization of an array of Capsicum annuum (L.) proteinase inhibitor (CanPIs) genes, we studied their expression, processing and tissue-specific distribution under steady-state and induced conditions. Inductions were performed by subjecting C. annuum leaves to various treatments, namely aphid infestation or mechanical wounding followed by treatment with either oral secretion (OS) of Helicoverpa armigera or water.


The elicitation treatments regulated the accumulation of CanPIs corresponding to 4-, 3-, and 2-inhibitory repeat domains (IRDs). Fourty seven different CanPI genes composed of 28 unique IRDs were identified in total along with those reported earlier. The CanPI gene pool either from uninduced or induced leaves was dominated by 3-IRD PIs and trypsin inhibitory domains. Also a major contribution by 4-IRD CanPI genes possessing trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitor domains was specifically revealed in wounded leaves treated with OS. Wounding displayed the highest number of unique CanPIs while wounding with OS treatment resulted in the high accumulation of specifically CanPI-4, -7 and −10. Characterization of the PI protein activity through two dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed tissue and induction specific patterns. Consistent with transcript abundance, wound plus OS or water treated C. annuum leaves exhibited significantly higher PI activity and isoform diversity contributed by 3- and 4-IRD CanPIs. CanPI accumulation and activity was weakly elicited by aphid infestation yet resulted in the higher expression of CanPI-26, -41 and −43.


Plants can differentially perceive various kinds of insect attacks and respond appropriately through activating plant defenses including regulation of PIs at transcriptional and post-translational levels. Based on the differentially elicited CanPI accumulation patterns, it is intriguing to speculate that generating sequence diversity in the form of multi-IRD PIs is a part of elaborative plant defense strategy to obtain a diverse pool of functional units to confine insect attack.

Plant-insect interaction; Herbivory; Oral secretions; Pin-II type proteinase inhibitors; CanPI