A tobacco cDNA clone (pCNT1) was characterized that encodes an extensin apoprotein almost entirely composed of the repeats Ser-Pro4(-Lys2), Pro-Tyr2-Pro2-His and Thr-Pro-Val-Tyr-Lys. In healthy plants extensin transcripts are abundant in the roots, less prevalent in the stem and rare in the leaves. In leaves extensin mRNA is induced by wounding, ethylene or virus infection. Tobacco was transformed with pCNT1 cDNA coupled in sense or antisense orientation to the CaMV 35S promoter. Analysis of transgenic plants that over- or underexpressed pCNT1 mRNA demonstrated that the encoded protein constituted the majority of hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins in roots, stems and leaves. The pCNT1-encoded protein contained at least 50% of total hydroxyproline present in these organs and was abundant in the soluble protein fraction of stems and roots as well as in the cell wall of stem vascular bundles. Analysis of transgenic plants expressing sense or antisense extensin gene constructs showed no correlation between total hydroxyproline concentration or soluble HRGP content and plant development.