Tissue distribution of cholinesterases and anticholinesterases in native and transgenic tomato plants

Samuel P. Fletcher, Brian C. Geyer, Amy Smith, Tama Evron, Lokesh Joshi, Hermona Soreq, Tsafrir Leket-Mor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Acetylcholinesterase, a major component of the central and peripheral nervous systems, is ubiquitous among multicellular animals, where its main function is to terminate synaptic transmission by hydrolyzing the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. However, previous reports describe cholinesterase activities in several plant species and we present data for its presence in tomato plants. Ectopic expression of a recombinant form of the human enzyme and the expression pattern of the transgene and the accumulation of its product in transgenic tomato plants are described. Levels of acetylcholinesterase activity in different tissues are closely effected by and can be separated from α-tomatine, an anticholinesterase steroidal glycoalkaloid. The recombinant enzyme can also be separated from the endogenous cholinesterase activity by its subcellular localization and distinct biochemical properties. Our results provide evidence for the co-existence in tomato plants of both acetylcholinesterase activity and a steroidal glycoalkaloid with anticholinesterase activity and suggest spatial mutual exclusivity of these antagonistic activities. Potential functions, including roles in plant-pathogen interactions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Anticholinesterase
  • Steroidal glycoalkaloids
  • Transgenic plants
  • α-tomatine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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