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Oilseed rape is characterized by a low nitrogen remobilization efficiency during leaf senescence, mainly due to a lack of proteolysis. Because cotyledons are subjected to senescence, it was hypothesized that contrasting protease activities between genotypes may be distinguishable early in the senescence of cotyledons. To verify this assumption, our goals were to (i) characterize protease activities in cotyledons between two genotypes with contrasting nitrogen remobilization efficiency (Ténor and Samouraï) under limiting or ample nitrate supply; and (ii) test the role of salicylic acid (SA) and abscisic acid (ABA) in proteolysis regulation. Protease activities were measured and identified by a proteomics approach combining activity-based protein profiling with LC-MS/MS. As in senescing leaves, chlorophyll and protein contents decrease in senescing cotyledons and are correlated with an increase in serine and cysteine protease activities. Two RD21-like and SAG-12 proteases previously associated with an efficient proteolysis in senescing leaves of Ténor are also detected in senescing cotyledons. The infiltration of ABA and SA provokes the induction of senescence and several cysteine and serine protease activities. The study of protease activities during the senescence of cotyledons seems to be a promising experimental model to investigate the regulation and genotypic variability of proteolysis associated with efficient N remobilization.

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Brassica napus L., cotyledon, genotypic variability, nitrogen remobilization efficiency, phytohormones, protease activity, senescence