A development-specific and elicitor-inducible acyltransferase [hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA: tyramine N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase (THT; EC 126.96.36.199)] that catalyzes the transfer of hydroxycinnamic acids from hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA esters to hydroxyphenethylamines was purified 988-fold to apparent homogeneity from opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) cell-suspension cultures. The purification procedure, which resulted in a 6.8% yield, involved hydrophobic interaction and anion-exchange chromatography, followed by affinity chromatography on Reactive Yellow-3-Agarose using the acyl donor (feruloyl-CoA) as eluent. Purified THT had an isoelectric point of 5.2, a native molecular mass of approximately 50 kDa, and consisted of two apparently identical 25-kDa subunits as determined by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The purified enzyme was able to synthesize a variety of amides due to a relatively low specificity for cinnamoyl-CoA derivatives and hydroxyphenethylamines. The best substrates were feruloyl-CoA (VK(m)(-1)13.4 mkat g(-1) M(-1)) and tyramine (VK(m)(-1)6.57 mkat g(-1) M(-1)). The THT activity increased during development of opium poppy seedlings, occurred at high levels in roots and stems of mature plants, and was induced in cell-suspension cultures after treatment with a pathogen-derived elicitor. Immunoblot analysis using THT mouse polyclonal antibodies did not always show a correlation between THT polypeptide and enzyme activity levels. For example, despite low THT activity in leaves, an abundant 25-kDa immunoreactive polypeptide was detected. Immunohistochemical localization showed that THT polypeptides occur in cortical and xylem parenchyma, immature xylem vessel elements, root periderm, anthers, ovules, and the inner layer of the seed coat, but are most abundant in phloem sieve-tube members in roots, stems, leaves, and anther filaments.