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Wheat grains are an important source of food, stock feed and raw materials for industry, but current production levels cannot meet world needs. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying wheat grain development will contribute valuable information to improving wheat cultivation. One of the most important mechanisms implicated in plant developmental processes is the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). Among the different roles of the UPS, it is clear that it is essential to hormone signaling. In particular, E3 ubiquitin ligases of the UPS have been shown to play critical roles in hormone perception and signal transduction.
A NimbleGen microarray containing 39,179 UniGenes was used to study the kinetics of gene expression during wheat grain development from the early stages of cell division to the mid-grain filling stage. By comparing 11 consecutive time-points, 9284 differentially expressed genes were identified and annotated during this study. A comparison of the temporal profiles of these genes revealed dynamic transcript accumulation profiles with major reprogramming events that occurred during the time intervals of 80-120 and 220-240°Cdays. The list of the genes expressed differentially during these transitions were identified and annotated. Emphasis was placed on E3 ligase and hormone-related genes. In total, 173 E3 ligase coding genes and 126 hormone-related genes were differentially expressed during the cell division and grain filling stages, with each family displaying a different expression profile.
The differential expression of genes involved in the UPS and plant hormone pathways suggests that phytohormones and UPS crosstalk might play a critical role in the wheat grain developmental process. Some E3 ligase and hormone-related genes seem to be up- or down-regulated during the early and late stages of the grain development.