The molecular basis of sulfonylurea herbicide resistance in tobacco

EMBO J. 1988 May;7(5):1241-8. doi: 10.1002/j.1460-2075.1988.tb02937.x.


The enzyme acetolactate synthase (ALS) is the target enzyme for the sulfonylurea and imidazolinone herbicides. We describe the isolation and characterization of the ALS genes from two herbicide-resistant mutants, C3 and S4-Hra, of Nicotiana tabacum. There are two distinct ALS genes in tobacco which are 0.7% divergent at the amino acid sequence level. The C3 mutant has a single Pro-Gln replacement at amino acid 196 in one ALS gene. This gene is termed the class I gene and is equivalent to the SuRA locus. The S4-Hra mutant has two amino acid changes in the other ALS gene. This gene is termed the class II gene or the SuRB locus. The S4-Hra mutant includes a Pro-Ala substitution at amino acid 196 and a Trp-Leu substitution at amino acid 573. Gene reintroduction experiments have confirmed that these amino acid substitutions are responsible for the herbicide resistance phenotypes. Transgenic plants carrying these genes are highly resistant to sulfonylurea herbicide applications.