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1.  Genome-wide analysis of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily in Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:573.
Background
Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis) is a member of one of the most important leaf vegetables grown worldwide, which has experienced thousands of years in cultivation and artificial selection. The entire Chinese cabbage genome sequence, and more than forty thousand proteins have been obtained to date. The genome has undergone triplication events since its divergence from Arabidopsis thaliana (13 to 17 Mya), however a high degree of sequence similarity and conserved genome structure remain between the two species. Arabidopsis is therefore a viable reference species for comparative genomics studies. Variation in the number of members in gene families due to genome triplication may contribute to the broad range of phenotypic plasticity, and increased tolerance to environmental extremes observed in Brassica species. Transcription factors are important regulators involved in plant developmental and physiological processes. The AP2/ERF proteins, one of the most important families of transcriptional regulators, play a crucial role in plant growth, and in response to biotic and abiotic stressors. Our analysis will provide resources for understanding the tolerance mechanisms in Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis.
Results
In the present study, 291 putative AP2/ERF transcription factor proteins were identified from the Chinese cabbage genome database, and compared with proteins from 15 additional species. The Chinese cabbage AP2/ERF superfamily was classified into four families, including AP2, ERF, RAV, and Soloist. The ERF family was further divided into DREB and ERF subfamilies. The AP2/ERF superfamily was subsequently divided into 15 groups. The identification, classification, phylogenetic reconstruction, conserved motifs, chromosome distribution, functional annotation, expression patterns, and interaction networks of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily were predicted and analyzed. Distribution mapping results showed AP2/ERF superfamily genes were localized on the 10 Chinese cabbage chromosomes. AP2/ERF transcription factor expression levels exhibited differences among six tissue types based on expressed sequence tags (ESTs). In the AP2/ERF superfamily, 214 orthologous genes were identified between Chinese cabbage and Arabidopsis. Orthologous gene interaction networks were constructed, and included seven CBF and four AP2 genes, primarily involved in cold regulatory pathways and ovule development, respectively.
Conclusions
The evolution of the AP2/ERF transcription factor superfamily in Chinese cabbage resulted from genome triplication and tandem duplications. A comprehensive analysis of the physiological functions and biological roles of AP2/ERF superfamily genes in Chinese cabbage is required to fully elucidate AP2/ERF, which provides us with rich resources and opportunities to understand crop stress tolerance mechanisms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-573
PMCID: PMC3765354  PMID: 23972083
Chinese cabbage; AP2/ERF; Stress tolerance; Gene expression; Interaction network; Protein annotation
2.  Identification and expression analysis of ERF transcription factor genes in petunia during flower senescence and in response to hormone treatments 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;62(2):825-840.
Ethylene-responsive element-binding factor (ERF) genes constitute one of the largest transcription factor gene families in plants. In Arabidopsis and rice, only a few ERF genes have been characterized so far. Flower senescence is associated with increased ethylene production in many flowers. However, the characterization of ERF genes in flower senescence has not been reported. In this study, 13 ERF cDNAs were cloned from petunia. Based on the sequence characterization, these PhERFs could be classified into four of the 12 known ERF families. Their predicted amino acid sequences exhibited similarities to ERFs from other plant species. Expression analyses of PhERF mRNAs were performed in corollas and gynoecia of petunia flower. The 13 PhERF genes displayed differential expression patterns and levels during natural flower senescence. Exogenous ethylene accelerates the transcription of the various PhERF genes, and silver thiosulphate (STS) decreased the transcription of several PhERF genes in corollas and gynoecia. PhERF genes of group VII showed a strong association with the rise in ethylene production in both petals and gynoecia, and might be associated particularly with flower senescence in petunia. The effect of sugar, methyl jasmonate, and the plant hormones abscisic acid, salicylic acid, and 6-benzyladenine in regulating the different PhERF transcripts was investigated. Functional nuclear localization signal analyses of two PhERF proteins (PhERF2 and PhERF3) were carried out using fluorescence microscopy. These results supported a role for petunia PhERF genes in transcriptional regulation of petunia flower senescence processes.
doi:10.1093/jxb/erq324
PMCID: PMC3003824  PMID: 20974735
ERF; ethylene; flower senescence; gene expression; petunia
3.  ERF5 and ERF6 Play Redundant Roles as Positive Regulators of JA/Et-Mediated Defense against Botrytis cinerea in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35995.
The ethylene response factor (ERF) family in Arabidopsis thaliana comprises 122 members in 12 groups, yet the biological functions of the majority remain unknown. Of the group IX ERFs, the IXc subgroup has been studied the most, and includes ERF1, ERF14 and ORA59, which play roles in plant innate immunity. Here we investigate the biological functions of two members of the less studied IXb subgroup: ERF5 and ERF6. In order to identify potential targets of these transcription factors, microarray analyses were performed on plants constitutively expressing either ERF5 or ERF6. Expression of defense genes, JA/Et-responsive genes and genes containing the GCC box promoter motif were significantly upregulated in both ERF5 and ERF6 transgenic plants, suggesting that ERF5 and ERF6 may act as positive regulators of JA-mediated defense and potentially overlap in their function. Since defense against necrotrophic pathogens is generally mediated through JA/Et-signalling, resistance against the fungal necrotroph Botrytis cinerea was examined. Constitutive expression of ERF5 or ERF6 resulted in significantly increased resistance. Although no significant difference in susceptibility to B. cinerea was observed in either erf5 or erf6 mutants, the erf5 erf6 double mutant showed a significant increase in susceptibility, which was likely due to compromised JA-mediated gene expression, since JA-induced gene expression was reduced in the double mutant. Taken together these data suggest that ERF5 and ERF6 play positive but redundant roles in defense against B. cinerea. Since mutual antagonism between JA/Et and salicylic acid (SA) signalling is well known, the UV-C inducibility of an SA-inducible gene, PR-1, was examined. Reduced inducibilty in both ERF5 and ERF6 constitutive overexepressors was consistent with suppression of SA-mediated signalling, as was an increased susceptibility to avirulent Pseudomonas syringae. These data suggest that ERF5 and ERF6 may also play a role in the antagonistic crosstalk between the JA/Et and SA signalling pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035995
PMCID: PMC3338558  PMID: 22563431
4.  Molecular characterization of seven genes encoding ethylene-responsive transcriptional factors during plum fruit development and ripening 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;60(3):907-922.
Seven ERF cDNAs were cloned from two Japanese plum (Prunus salicina L.) cultivars, ‘Early Golden’ (EG) and ‘Shiro’ (SH). Based on the sequence characterization, these Ps-ERFs could be classified into three of the four known ERF families. Their predicted amino acid sequences exhibited similarities to ERFs from other plant species. Functional nuclear localization signal analyses of two Ps-ERF proteins (Ps-ERF1a and -1b) were carried out using confocal microscopy. Expression analyses of Ps-ERF mRNAs were studied in the two plum cultivars in order to determine the role of this gene family in fruit development and ripening. The seven Ps-ERFs displayed differential expression pattern and levels throughout the various stages of flower and fruit development. The diversity in Ps-ERFs accumulation was largely due to the differences in their responses to the levels of ethylene production. However, other plant hormones such as cytokinin and auxin, which accumulate strongly throughout the various developmental stages, also influence the Ps-ERFs expression. The effect of the plant hormones, gibberellin, cytokinin, auxin, and ethylene in regulating the different Ps-ERF transcripts was investigated. A model was proposed in which the role played by the plant hormone auxin is as important as that of ethylene in initiating and determining the date and rate of ripening in Japanese plums.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ern354
PMCID: PMC2652048  PMID: 19213809
Double sigmoid curve growth pattern; ethylene-responsive factor (ERF); plant hormones; plum fruit development and ripening
5.  Genome-wide transcriptional analysis of grapevine berry ripening reveals a set of genes similarly modulated during three seasons and the occurrence of an oxidative burst at vèraison 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:428.
Background
Grapevine (Vitis species) is among the most important fruit crops in terms of cultivated area and economic impact. Despite this relevance, little is known about the transcriptional changes and the regulatory circuits underlying the biochemical and physical changes occurring during berry development.
Results
Fruit ripening in the non-climacteric crop species Vitis vinifera L. has been investigated at the transcriptional level by the use of the Affymetrix Vitis GeneChip® which contains approximately 14,500 unigenes. Gene expression data obtained from berries sampled before and after véraison in three growing years, were analyzed to identify genes specifically involved in fruit ripening and to investigate seasonal influences on the process. From these analyses a core set of 1477 genes was found which was similarly modulated in all seasons. We were able to separate ripening specific isoforms within gene families and to identify ripening related genes which appeared strongly regulated also by the seasonal weather conditions. Transcripts annotation by Gene Ontology vocabulary revealed five overrepresented functional categories of which cell wall organization and biogenesis, carbohydrate and secondary metabolisms and stress response were specifically induced during the ripening phase, while photosynthesis was strongly repressed. About 19% of the core gene set was characterized by genes involved in regulatory processes, such as transcription factors and transcripts related to hormonal metabolism and signal transduction. Auxin, ethylene and light emerged as the main stimuli influencing berry development. In addition, an oxidative burst, previously not detected in grapevine, characterized by rapid accumulation of H2O2 starting from véraison and by the modulation of many ROS scavenging enzymes, was observed.
Conclusion
The time-course gene expression analysis of grapevine berry development has identified the occurrence of two well distinct phases along the process. The pre-véraison phase represents a reprogramming stage of the cellular metabolism, characterized by the expression of numerous genes involved in hormonal signalling and transcriptional regulation. The post-véraison phase is characterized by the onset of a ripening-specialized metabolism responsible for the phenotypic traits of the ripe berry. Between the two phases, at véraison, an oxidative burst and the concurrent modulation of the anti-oxidative enzymatic network was observed. The large number of regulatory genes we have identified represents a powerful new resource for dissecting the mechanisms of fruit ripening control in non-climacteric plants.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-428
PMCID: PMC2228314  PMID: 18034875
6.  Genome-Wide Analysis of the Expansin Gene Superfamily Reveals Grapevine-Specific Structural and Functional Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62206.
Background
Expansins are proteins that loosen plant cell walls in a pH-dependent manner, probably by increasing the relative movement among polymers thus causing irreversible expansion. The expansin superfamily (EXP) comprises four distinct families: expansin A (EXPA), expansin B (EXPB), expansin-like A (EXLA) and expansin-like B (EXLB). There is experimental evidence that EXPA and EXPB proteins are required for cell expansion and developmental processes involving cell wall modification, whereas the exact functions of EXLA and EXLB remain unclear. The complete grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome sequence has allowed the characterization of many gene families, but an exhaustive genome-wide analysis of expansin gene expression has not been attempted thus far.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We identified 29 EXP superfamily genes in the grapevine genome, representing all four EXP families. Members of the same EXP family shared the same exon–intron structure, and phylogenetic analysis confirmed a closer relationship between EXP genes from woody species, i.e. grapevine and poplar (Populus trichocarpa), compared to those from Arabidopsis thaliana and rice (Oryza sativa). We also identified grapevine-specific duplication events involving the EXLB family. Global gene expression analysis confirmed a strong correlation among EXP genes expressed in mature and green/vegetative samples, respectively, as reported for other gene families in the recently-published grapevine gene expression atlas. We also observed the specific co-expression of EXLB genes in woody organs, and the involvement of certain grapevine EXP genes in berry development and post-harvest withering.
Conclusion
Our comprehensive analysis of the grapevine EXP superfamily confirmed and extended current knowledge about the structural and functional characteristics of this gene family, and also identified properties that are currently unique to grapevine expansin genes. Our data provide a model for the functional characterization of grapevine gene families by combining phylogenetic analysis with global gene expression profiling.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062206
PMCID: PMC3628503  PMID: 23614035
7.  Genome-wide survey and expression profiles of the AP2/ERF family in castor bean (Ricinus communis L.) 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):785.
Background
The AP2/ERF transcription factor, one of the largest gene families in plants, plays a crucial role in the regulation of growth and development, metabolism, and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Castor bean (Ricinus communis L., Euphobiaceae) is one of most important non-edible oilseed crops and its seed oil is broadly used for industrial applications. The available genome provides a great chance to identify and characterize the global information on AP2/ERF transcription factors in castor bean, which might provide insights in understanding the molecular basis of the AP2/ERF family in castor bean.
Results
A total of 114 AP2/ERF transcription factors were identified based on the genome in castor bean. According to the number of the AP2/ERF domain, the conserved amino acid residues within AP2/ERF domain, the conserved motifs and gene organization in structure, and phylogenetical analysis, the identified 114 AP2/ERF transcription factors were characterized. Global expression profiles among different tissues using high-throughput sequencing of digital gene expression profiles (DGEs) displayed diverse expression patterns that may provide basic information in understanding the function of the AP2/ERF gene family in castor bean.
Conclusions
The current study is the first report on identification and characterization of the AP2/ERF transcription factors based on the genome of castor bean in the family Euphobiaceae. Results obtained from this study provide valuable information in understanding the molecular basis of the AP2/ERF family in castor bean.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-785) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-785
PMCID: PMC4046667  PMID: 24225250
8.  Berry skin development in Norton grape: Distinct patterns of transcriptional regulation and flavonoid biosynthesis 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:7.
Background
The complex and dynamic changes during grape berry development have been studied in Vitis vinifera, but little is known about these processes in other Vitis species. The grape variety 'Norton', with a major portion of its genome derived from Vitis aestivalis, maintains high levels of malic acid and phenolic acids in the ripening berries in comparison with V. vinifera varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Furthermore, Norton berries develop a remarkably high level of resistance to most fungal pathogens while Cabernet Sauvignon berries remain susceptible to those pathogens. The distinct characteristics of Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon merit a comprehensive analysis of transcriptional regulation and metabolite pathways.
Results
A microarray study was conducted on transcriptome changes of Norton berry skin during the period of 37 to 127 days after bloom, which represents berry developmental phases from herbaceous growth to full ripeness. Samples of six berry developmental stages were collected. Analysis of the microarray data revealed that a total of 3,352 probe sets exhibited significant differences at transcript levels, with two-fold changes between at least two developmental stages. Expression profiles of defense-related genes showed a dynamic modulation of nucleotide-binding site-leucine-rich repeat (NBS-LRR) resistance genes and pathogenesis-related (PR) genes during berry development. Transcript levels of PR-1 in Norton berry skin clearly increased during the ripening phase. As in other grapevines, genes of the phenylpropanoid pathway were up-regulated in Norton as the berry developed. The most noticeable was the steady increase of transcript levels of stilbene synthase genes. Transcriptional patterns of six MYB transcription factors and eleven structural genes of the flavonoid pathway and profiles of anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (PAs) during berry skin development were analyzed comparatively in Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon. Transcriptional patterns of MYB5A and MYB5B were similar during berry development between the two varieties, but those of MYBPA1 and MYBPA2 were strikingly different, demonstrating that the general flavonoid pathways are regulated under different MYB factors. The data showed that there were higher transcript levels of the genes encoding flavonoid-3'-O-hydroxylase (F3'H), flavonoid-3',5'-hydroxylase (F3'5'H), leucoanthocyanidin dioxygenase (LDOX), UDP-glucose:flavonoid 3'-O-glucosyltransferase (UFGT), anthocyanidin reductase (ANR), leucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR) 1 and LAR2 in berry skin of Norton than in those of Cabernet Sauvignon. It was also found that the total amount of anthocyanins was markedly higher in Norton than in Cabernet Sauvignon berry skin at harvest, and five anthocyanin derivatives and three PA compounds exhibited distinctive accumulation patterns in Norton berry skin.
Conclusions
This study provides an overview of the transcriptome changes and the flavonoid profiles in the berry skin of Norton, an important North American wine grape, during berry development. The steady increase of transcripts of PR-1 and stilbene synthase genes likely contributes to the developmentally regulated resistance during ripening of Norton berries. More studies are required to address the precise role of each stilbene synthase gene in berry development and disease resistance. Transcriptional regulation of MYBA1, MYBA2, MYB5A and MYBPA1 as well as expression levels of their putative targets F3'H, F3'5'H, LDOX, UFGT, ANR, LAR1, and LAR2 are highly correlated with the characteristic anthocyanin and PA profiles in Norton berry skin. These results reveal a unique pattern of the regulation of transcription and biosynthesis pathways underlying the viticultural and enological characteristics of Norton grape, and yield new insights into the understanding of the flavonoid pathway in non-vinifera grape varieties.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-11-7
PMCID: PMC3025947  PMID: 21219654
9.  Phylogeny, gene structures, and expression patterns of the ERF gene family in soybean (Glycine max L.) 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;59(15):4095-4107.
Members of the ERF transcription factor family play important roles in regulating gene expression in response to biotic and abiotic stresses. In soybean (Glycine max L.), however, only a few ERF genes have been studied so far. In this study, 98 unigenes that contained a complete AP2/ERF domain were identified from 63 676 unique sequences in the DFCI Soybean Gene Index database. The phylogeny, gene structures, and putative conserved motifs in soybean ERF proteins were analysed, and compared with those of Arabidopsis and rice. The members of the soybean ERF family were divided into 12 subgroups, similar to the case for Arabidopsis. AP2/ERF domains were conserved among soybean, Arabidopsis, and rice. Outside the AP2/ERF domain, many soybean-specific conserved motifs were detected. Expression analysis showed that nine unigenes belonging to six ERF family subgroups were induced by both biotic/abiotic stresses and hormone treatment, suggesting that they were involved in cross-talk between biotic and abiotic stress-responsive signalling pathways. Overexpression of two full-length genes from two different subgroups enhanced the tolerances to drought, salt stresses, and/or pathogen infection of the tobacco plants. These results will be useful for elucidating ERF gene-associated stress response signalling pathways in soybean.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ern248
PMCID: PMC2639015  PMID: 18832187
ERF family; gene function; phylogeny; soybean; stress response
10.  Functional analysis and binding affinity of tomato ethylene response factors provide insight on the molecular bases of plant differential responses to ethylene 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:190.
Background
The phytohormone ethylene is involved in a wide range of developmental processes and in mediating plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Ethylene signalling acts via a linear transduction pathway leading to the activation of Ethylene Response Factor genes (ERF) which represent one of the largest gene families of plant transcription factors. How an apparently simple signalling pathway can account for the complex and widely diverse plant responses to ethylene remains yet an unanswered question. Building on the recent release of the complete tomato genome sequence, the present study aims at gaining better insight on distinctive features among ERF proteins.
Results
A set of 28 cDNA clones encoding ERFs in the tomato (Solanum lycopersicon) were isolated and shown to fall into nine distinct subclasses characterised by specific conserved motifs most of which with unknown function. In addition of being able to regulate the transcriptional activity of GCC-box containing promoters, tomato ERFs are also shown to be active on promoters lacking this canonical ethylene-responsive-element. Moreover, the data reveal that ERF affinity to the GCC-box depends on the nucleotide environment surrounding this cis-acting element. Site-directed mutagenesis revealed that the nature of the flanking nucleotides can either enhance or reduce the binding affinity, thus conferring the binding specificity of various ERFs to target promoters.
Based on their expression pattern, ERF genes can be clustered in two main clades given their preferential expression in reproductive or vegetative tissues. The regulation of several tomato ERF genes by both ethylene and auxin, suggests their potential contribution to the convergence mechanism between the signalling pathways of the two hormones.
Conclusions
The data reveal that regions flanking the core GCC-box sequence are part of the discrimination mechanism by which ERFs selectively bind to their target promoters. ERF tissue-specific expression combined to their responsiveness to both ethylene and auxin bring some insight on the complexity and fine regulation mechanisms involving these transcriptional mediators. All together the data support the hypothesis that ERFs are the main component enabling ethylene to regulate a wide range of physiological processes in a highly specific and coordinated manner.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-190
PMCID: PMC3548740  PMID: 23057995
Ethylene; ERF; Transcriptional regulation; cis-regulatory elements; Tomato
11.  AP2/ERF Transcription Factor in Rice: Genome-Wide Canvas and Syntenic Relationships between Monocots and Eudicots 
The transcription factor family intimately regulates gene expression in response to hormones, biotic and abiotic factors, symbiotic interactions, cell differentiation, and stress signalling pathways in plants. In this study, 170 AP2/ERF family genes are identified by phylogenetic analysis of the rice genome (Oryza sativa l. japonica) and they are divided into a total of 11 groups, including four major groups (AP2, ERF, DREB, and RAV), 10 subgroups, and two soloists. Gene structure analysis revealed that, at position-6, the amino acid threonine (Thr-6) is conserved in the double domain AP2 proteins compared to the amino acid arginine (Arg-6), which is preserved in the single domain of ERF proteins. In addition, the histidine (His) amino acid is found in both domains of the double domain AP2 protein, which is missing in single domain ERF proteins. Motif analysis indicates that most of the conserved motifs, apart from the AP2/ERF domain, are exclusively distributed among the specific clades in the phylogenetic tree and regulate plausible functions. Expression analysis reveals a widespread distribution of the rice AP2/ERF family genes within plant tissues. In the vegetative organs, the transcripts of these genes are found most abundant in the roots followed by the leaf and stem; whereas, in reproductive tissues, the gene expression of this family is observed high in the embryo and lemma. From chromosomal localization, it appears that repetition and tandem-duplication may contribute to the evolution of new genes in the rice genome. In this study, interspecies comparisons between rice and wheat reveal 34 rice loci and unveil the extent of collinearity between the two genomes. It was subsequently ascertained that chromosome-9 has more orthologous loci for CRT/DRE genes whereas chromosome-2 exhibits orthologs for ERF subfamily members. Maximum conserved synteny is found in chromosome-3 for AP2 double domain subfamily genes. Macrosynteny between rice and Arabidopsis, a distant, related genome, uncovered 11 homologs/orthologs loci in both genomes. The distribution of AP2/ERF family gene paralogs in Arabidopsis was most frequent in chromosome-1 followed by chromosome-5. In Arabidopsis, ERF subfamily gene orthologs are found on chromosome-1, chromosome-3, and chromosome-5, whereas DRE subfamily genes are found on chromosome-2 and chromosome-5. Orthologs for RAV and AP2 with double domains in Arabidopsis are located on chromosome-1 and chromosome-3, respectively. In conclusion, the data generated in this survey will be useful for conducting genomic research to determine the precise role of the AP2/ERF gene during stress responses with the ultimate goal of improving crops.
doi:10.4137/EBO.S9369
PMCID: PMC3396566  PMID: 22807623
AP2/ERF; CBF/DREB; RAV; phylogenetic analysis; rice; wheat; Arabidopsis
12.  Overexpression of the soybean GmERF3 gene, an AP2/ERF type transcription factor for increased tolerances to salt, drought, and diseases in transgenic tobacco 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;60(13):3781-3796.
A new member of the AP2/ERF transcription factor family, GmERF3, was isolated from soybean. Sequence analysis showed that GmERF3 contained an AP2/ERF domain of 58 amino acids and two putative nuclear localization signal (NLS) domains. It belonged to a group IV protein in the ERF (ethylene response factor) subfamily as typified by a conserved N-terminal motif [MCGGAI(I/L)]. Expression of GmERF3 was induced by treatments with high salinity, drought, abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), ethylene (ET), and soybean mosaic virus (SMV), whereas there was no significant GmERF3 mRNA accumulation under cold stress treatment. GmERF3 could bind to the GCC box and DRE/CRT element, and was targeted to the nucleus when transiently expressed in onion epidermal cells. The GmERF3 protein fused to the GAL4 DNA-binding domain to activate transcription of reporter genes in yeast. Ectopic expression of the GmERF3 gene in transgenic tobacco plants induced the expression of some PR genes and enhanced resistance against infection by Ralstonia solanacearum, Alternaria alternata, and tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), and gave tolerance to high salinity and dehydration stresses. Furthermore, overexpression of GmERF3 in transgenic tobacco led to higher levels of free proline and soluble carbohydrates compared to wild-type plants under drought conditions. The overall results suggested that GmERF3 as an AP2/ERF transcription factor may play dual roles in response to biotic and abiotic stresses in plants.
doi:10.1093/jxb/erp214
PMCID: PMC2736888  PMID: 19602544
Abiotic stress; biotic stress; ethylene response factor; pathogen
13.  Circadian oscillatory transcriptional programs in grapevine ripening fruits 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:78.
Background
Temperature and solar radiation influence Vitis vinifera L. berry ripening. Both environmental conditions fluctuate cyclically on a daily period basis and the strength of this fluctuation affects grape ripening too. Additionally, a molecular circadian clock regulates daily cyclic expression in a large proportion of the plant transcriptome modulating multiple developmental processes in diverse plant organs and developmental phases. Circadian cycling of fruit transcriptomes has not been characterized in detail despite their putative relevance in the final composition of the fruit. Thus, in this study, gene expression throughout 24 h periods in pre-ripe berries of Tempranillo and Verdejo grapevine cultivars was followed to determine whether different ripening transcriptional programs are activated during certain times of day in different grape tissues and genotypes.
Results
Microarray analyses identified oscillatory transcriptional profiles following circadian variations in the photocycle and the thermocycle. A higher number of expression oscillating transcripts were detected in samples carrying exocarp tissue including biotic stress-responsive transcripts activated around dawn. Thermotolerance-like responses and regulation of circadian clock-related genes were observed in all studied samples. Indeed, homologs of core clock genes were identified in the grapevine genome and, among them, VvREVEILLE1 (VvRVE1), showed a consistent circadian expression rhythm in every grape berry tissue analysed. Light signalling components and terpenoid biosynthetic transcripts were specifically induced during the daytime in Verdejo, a cultivar bearing white-skinned and aromatic berries, whereas transcripts involved in phenylpropanoid biosynthesis were more prominently regulated in Tempranillo, a cultivar bearing black-skinned berries.
Conclusions
The transcriptome of ripening fruits varies in response to daily environmental changes, which might partially be under the control of circadian clock components. Certain cultivar and berry tissue features could rely on specific circadian oscillatory expression profiles. These findings may help to a better understanding of the progress of berry ripening in short term time scales.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-78
PMCID: PMC3986946  PMID: 24666982
Circadian; Fruit ripening; Gene expression; Grapevine; Light; Microarray; Phenylpropanoid; Temperature; Terpene; Vitis vinifera
14.  Colour variation in red grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.): genomic organisation, expression of flavonoid 3'-hydroxylase, flavonoid 3',5'-hydroxylase genes and related metabolite profiling of red cyanidin-/blue delphinidin-based anthocyanins in berry skin 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:12.
Background
Structural genes of the phenyl-propanoid pathway which encode flavonoid 3'- and 3',5'-hydroxylases (F3'H and F3'5'H) have long been invoked to explain the biosynthesis of cyanidin- and delphinidin-based anthocyanin pigments in the so-called red cultivars of grapevine. The relative proportion of the two types of anthocyanins is largely under genetic control and determines the colour variation among red/purple/blue berry grape varieties and their corresponding wines.
Results
Gene fragments of VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H, that were isolated from Vitis vinifera 'Cabernet Sauvignon' using degenerate primers designed on plant homologous genes, translated into 313 and 239 amino acid protein fragments, respectively, with up to 76% and 82% identity to plant CYP75 cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. Putative function was assigned on the basis of sequence homology, expression profiling and its correlation with metabolite accumulation at ten different ripening stages. At the onset of colour transition, transcriptional induction of VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H was temporally coordinated with the beginning of anthocyanin biosynthesis, the expression being 2-fold and 50-fold higher, respectively, in red berries versus green berries. The peak of VvF3'5'H expression was observed two weeks later concomitantly with the increase of the ratio of delphinidin-/cyanidin-derivatives. The analysis of structural genomics revealed that two copies of VvF3'H are physically linked on linkage group no. 17 and several copies of VvF3'5'H are tightly clustered and embedded into a segmental duplication on linkage group no. 6, unveiling a high complexity when compared to other plant flavonoid hydroxylase genes known so far, mostly in ornamentals.
Conclusion
We have shown that genes encoding flavonoid 3'- and 3',5'-hydroxylases are expressed in any tissues of the grape plant that accumulate flavonoids and, particularly, in skin of ripening red berries that synthesise mostly anthocyanins. The correlation between transcript profiles and the kinetics of accumulation of red/cyanidin- and blue/delphinidin-based anthocyanins indicated that VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H expression is consistent with the chromatic evolution of ripening bunches. Local physical maps constructed around the VvF3'H and VvF3'5'H loci should help facilitate the identification of the regulatory elements of each isoform and the future manipulation of grapevine and wine colour through agronomical, environmental and biotechnological tools.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-12
PMCID: PMC1403756  PMID: 16433923
15.  Overexpression of human release factor 1 alone has an antisuppressor effect in human cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1997;17(6):3164-3172.
Two eukaryotic proteins involved in translation termination have recently been characterized in in vitro experiments. Eukaryotic release factor 1 (eRF1) catalyzes the release of the polypeptide chain without any stop codon specificity. The GTP-binding protein eRF3 confers GTP dependence to the termination process and stimulates eRF1 activity. We used tRNA-mediated nonsense suppression at different stop codons in a cat reporter gene to analyze the polypeptide chain release factor activities of the human eRF1 and eRF3 proteins overexpressed in human cells. In a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase assay, we measured the competition between the suppressor tRNA and the human release factors when a stop codon was present in the ribosomal A site. Whatever the stop codon (UAA, UAG, or UGA) present in the cat open reading frame, the overexpression of human eRF1 alone markedly decreased translational readthrough by suppressor tRNA. Thus, like the procaryotic release factors RF1 and RF2 in Escherichia coli, eRF1 seems to have an intrinsic antisuppressor activity in human cells. Levels of antisuppression of overexpression of both eRF3 and eRF1 were almost the same as those of overexpression of eRF1 alone, suggesting that eRF1-eRF3 complex-mediated termination may be controlled by the expression level of eRF1. Surprisingly, when overexpressed alone, eRF3 had an inhibitory effect on cat gene expression. The results of cat mRNA stability studies suggest that eRF3 inhibits gene expression at the transcriptional level. This indicates that in vivo, eRF3 may perform other functions, including the stimulation of eRF1 activity.
PMCID: PMC232169  PMID: 9154815
16.  Gene expression profiling in susceptible interaction of grapevine with its fungal pathogen Eutypa lata: Extending MapMan ontology for grapevine 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:104.
Background
Whole genome transcriptomics analysis is a very powerful approach because it gives an overview of the activity of genes in certain cells or tissue types. However, biological interpretation of such results can be rather tedious. MapMan is a software tool that displays large datasets (e.g. gene expression data) onto diagrams of metabolic pathways or other processes and thus enables easier interpretation of results. The grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome sequence has recently become available bringing a new dimension into associated research. Two microarray platforms were designed based on the TIGR Gene Index database and used in several physiological studies.
Results
To enable easy and effective visualization of those and further experiments, annotation of Vitis vinifera Gene Index (VvGI version 5) to MapMan ontology was set up. Due to specificities of grape physiology, we have created new pictorial representations focusing on three selected pathways: carotenoid pathway, terpenoid pathway and phenylpropanoid pathway, the products of these pathways being important for wine aroma, flavour and colour, as well as plant defence against pathogens. This new tool was validated on Affymetrix microarrays data obtained during berry ripening and it allowed the discovery of new aspects in process regulation. We here also present results on transcriptional profiling of grape plantlets after exposal to the fungal pathogen Eutypa lata using Operon microarrays including visualization of results with MapMan. The data show that the genes induced in infected plants, encode pathogenesis related proteins and enzymes of the flavonoid metabolism, which are well known as being responsive to fungal infection.
Conclusion
The extension of MapMan ontology to grapevine together with the newly constructed pictorial representations for carotenoid, terpenoid and phenylpropanoid metabolism provide an alternative approach to the analysis of grapevine gene expression experiments performed with Affymetrix or Operon microarrays. MapMan was first validated on an already published dataset and later used to obtain an overview of transcriptional changes in a susceptible grapevine – Eutypa lata interaction at the time of symptoms development, where we showed that the responsive genes belong to families known to be involved in the plant defence towards fungal infection (PR-proteins, enzymes of the phenylpropanoid pathway).
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-104
PMCID: PMC2731041  PMID: 19656401
17.  Genome-Wide Identification, Phylogeny, Evolution and Expression Patterns of AP2/ERF Genes and Cytokinin Response Factors in Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83444.
The AP2/ERF transcription factor family is one of the largest families involved in growth and development, hormone responses, and biotic or abiotic stress responses in plants. In this study, 281 AP2/ERF transcription factor unigenes were identified in Chinese cabbage. These superfamily members were classified into three families (AP2, ERF, and RAV). The ERF family was subdivided into the DREB subfamily and the ERF subfamily with 13 groups (I– XI) based on sequence similarity. Duplication, evolution and divergence of the AP2/ERF genes in B. rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana were investigated and estimated. Cytokinin response factors (CRFs), as a subclade of the AP2/ERF family, are important transcription factors that define a branch point in the cytokinin two-component signal (TCS) transduction pathway. Up to 21 CRFs with a conserved CRF domain were retrieved and designated as BrCRFs. The amino acid sequences, conserved regions and motifs, phylogenetic relationships, and promoter regions of the 21 BrCRFs were analyzed in detail. The BrCRFs broadly expressed in various tissues and organs. The transcripts of BrCRFs were regulated by factors such as drought, high salinity, and exogenous 6-BA, NAA, and ABA, suggesting their involvement in abiotic stress conditions and regulatory mechanisms of plant hormone homeostasis. These results provide new insight into the divergence, variation, and evolution of AP2/ERF genes at the genome-level in Chinese cabbage.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083444
PMCID: PMC3875448  PMID: 24386201
18.  The genes and enzymes of the carotenoid metabolic pathway in Vitis vinifera L. 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:243.
Background
Carotenoids are a heterogeneous group of plant isoprenoids primarily involved in photosynthesis. In plants the cleavage of carotenoids leads to the formation of the phytohormones abscisic acid and strigolactone, and C13-norisoprenoids involved in the characteristic flavour and aroma compounds in flowers and fruits and are of specific importance in the varietal character of grapes and wine. This work extends the previous reports of carotenoid gene expression and photosynthetic pigment analysis by providing an up-to-date pathway analysis and an important framework for the analysis of carotenoid metabolic pathways in grapevine.
Results
Comparative genomics was used to identify 42 genes putatively involved in carotenoid biosynthesis/catabolism in grapevine. The genes are distributed on 16 of the 19 chromosomes and have been localised to the physical map of the heterozygous ENTAV115 grapevine sequence. Nine of the genes occur as single copies whereas the rest of the carotenoid metabolic genes have more than one paralogue. The cDNA copies of eleven corresponding genes from Vitis vinifera L. cv. Pinotage were characterised, and four where shown to be functional. Microarrays provided expression profiles of 39 accessions in the metabolic pathway during three berry developmental stages in Sauvignon blanc, whereas an optimised HPLC analysis provided the concentrations of individual carotenoids. This provides evidence of the functioning of the lutein epoxide cycle and the respective genes in grapevine. Similarly, orthologues of genes leading to the formation of strigolactone involved in shoot branching inhibition were identified: CCD7, CCD8 and MAX1. Moreover, the isoforms typically have different expression patterns, confirming the complex regulation of the pathway. Of particular interest is the expression pattern of the three VvNCEDs: Our results support previous findings that VvNCED3 is likely the isoform linked to ABA content in berries.
Conclusions
The carotenoid metabolic pathway is well characterised, and the genes and enzymes have been studied in a number of plants. The study of the 42 carotenoid pathway genes of grapevine showed that they share a high degree of similarity with other eudicots. Expression and pigment profiling of developing berries provided insights into the most complete grapevine carotenoid pathway representation. This study represents an important reference study for further characterisation of carotenoid biosynthesis and catabolism in grapevine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-243
PMCID: PMC3484060  PMID: 22702718
19.  Identification of microRNAs from Amur grape (vitis amurensis Rupr.) by deep sequencing and analysis of microRNA variations with bioinformatics 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:122.
Background
MicroRNA (miRNA) is a class of functional non-coding small RNA with 19-25 nucleotides in length while Amur grape (Vitis amurensis Rupr.) is an important wild fruit crop with the strongest cold resistance among the Vitis species, is used as an excellent breeding parent for grapevine, and has elicited growing interest in wine production. To date, there is a relatively large number of grapevine miRNAs (vv-miRNAs) from cultivated grapevine varieties such as Vitis vinifera L. and hybrids of V. vinifera and V. labrusca, but there is no report on miRNAs from Vitis amurensis Rupr, a wild grapevine species.
Results
A small RNA library from Amur grape was constructed and Solexa technology used to perform deep sequencing of the library followed by subsequent bioinformatics analysis to identify new miRNAs. In total, 126 conserved miRNAs belonging to 27 miRNA families were identified, and 34 known but non-conserved miRNAs were also found. Significantly, 72 new potential Amur grape-specific miRNAs were discovered. The sequences of these new potential va-miRNAs were further validated through miR-RACE, and accumulation of 18 new va-miRNAs in seven tissues of grapevines confirmed by real time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis. The expression levels of va-miRNAs in flowers and berries were found to be basically consistent in identity to those from deep sequenced sRNAs libraries of combined corresponding tissues. We also describe the conservation and variation of va-miRNAs using miR-SNPs and miR-LDs during plant evolution based on comparison of orthologous sequences, and further reveal that the number and sites of miR-SNP in diverse miRNA families exhibit distinct divergence. Finally, 346 target genes for the new miRNAs were predicted and they include a number of Amur grape stress tolerance genes and many genes regulating anthocyanin synthesis and sugar metabolism.
Conclusions
Deep sequencing of short RNAs from Amur grape flowers and berries identified 72 new potential miRNAs and 34 known but non-conserved miRNAs, indicating that specific miRNAs exist in Amur grape. These results show that a number of regulatory miRNAs exist in Amur grape and play an important role in Amur grape growth, development, and response to abiotic or biotic stress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-122
PMCID: PMC3353164  PMID: 22455456
Amur grape; microRNA; Sequences evolution; Solexa sequencing; miR-RACE; qRT-PCR
20.  Banana ethylene response factors are involved in fruit ripening through their interactions with ethylene biosynthesis genes 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(8):2499-2510.
The involvement of ethylene response factor (ERF) transcription factor (TF) in the transcriptional regulation of ethylene biosynthesis genes during fruit ripening remains largely unclear. In this study, 15 ERF genes, designated as MaERF1–MaERF15, were isolated and characterized from banana fruit. These MaERFs were classified into seven of the 12 known ERF families. Subcellular localization showed that MaERF proteins of five different subfamilies preferentially localized to the nucleus. The 15 MaERF genes displayed differential expression patterns and levels in peel and pulp of banana fruit, in association with four different ripening treatments caused by natural, ethylene-induced, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP)-delayed, and combined 1-MCP and ethylene treatments. MaERF9 was upregulated while MaERF11 was downregulated in peel and pulp of banana fruit during ripening or after treatment with ethylene. Furthermore, yeast-one hybrid (Y1H) and transient expression assays showed that the potential repressor MaERF11 bound to MaACS1 and MaACO1 promoters to suppress their activities and that MaERF9 activated MaACO1 promoter activity. Interestingly, protein–protein interaction analysis revealed that MaERF9 and -11 physically interacted with MaACO1. Taken together, these results suggest that MaERFs are involved in banana fruit ripening via transcriptional regulation of or interaction with ethylene biosynthesis genes.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert108
PMCID: PMC3654433  PMID: 23599278
Banana; ERF; ethylene biosynthesis; fruit ripening; interaction; transcriptional regulation.
21.  Interactions between ethylene and auxin are crucial to the control of grape (Vitis vinifera L.) berry ripening 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:222.
Background
Fruit development is controlled by plant hormones, but the role of hormone interactions during fruit ripening is poorly understood. Interactions between ethylene and the auxin indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) are likely to be crucial during the ripening process, since both hormones have been shown to be implicated in the control of ripening in a range of different fruit species.
Results
Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) homologues of the TRYPTOPHAN AMINOTRANSFERASE RELATED (TAR) and YUCCA families, functioning in the only characterized pathway of auxin biosynthesis, were identified and the expression of several TAR genes was shown to be induced by the pre-ripening application of the ethylene-releasing compound Ethrel. The induction of TAR expression was accompanied by increased IAA and IAA-Asp concentrations, indicative of an upregulation of auxin biosynthesis and conjugation. Exposure of ex planta, pre-ripening berries to the ethylene biosynthesis inhibitor aminoethoxyvinylglycine resulted in decreased IAA and IAA-Asp concentrations. The delayed initiation of ripening observed in Ethrel-treated berries might therefore represent an indirect ethylene effect mediated by increased auxin concentrations. During berry development, the expression of three TAR genes and one YUCCA gene was upregulated at the time of ripening initiation and/or during ripening. This increase in auxin biosynthesis gene expression was preceded by high expression levels of the ethylene biosynthesis genes 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate synthase and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate oxidase.
Conclusions
In grape berries, members of both gene families involved in the two-step pathway of auxin biosynthesis are expressed, suggesting that IAA is produced through the combined action of TAR and YUCCA proteins in developing berries. The induction of TAR expression by Ethrel applications and the developmental expression patterns of auxin and ethylene biosynthesis genes indicate that elevated concentrations of ethylene prior to the initiation of ripening might lead to an increased production of IAA, suggesting a complex involvement of this auxin and its conjugates in grape berry ripening.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-222
PMCID: PMC3878033  PMID: 24364881
Aminoethoxyvinylglycine; Auxin; Biosynthesis; Ethrel; Ethylene; Interaction; Vitis vinifera; Ripening
22.  Some ethylene biosynthesis and AP2/ERF genes reveal a specific pattern of expression during somatic embryogenesis in Hevea brasiliensis 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:244.
Background
Ethylene production and signalling play an important role in somatic embryogenesis, especially for species that are recalcitrant in in vitro culture. The AP2/ERF superfamily has been identified and classified in Hevea brasiliensis. This superfamily includes the ERFs involved in response to ethylene. The relative transcript abundance of ethylene biosynthesis genes and of AP2/ERF genes was analysed during somatic embryogenesis for callus lines with different regeneration potential, in order to identify genes regulated during that process.
Results
The analysis of relative transcript abundance was carried out by real-time RT-PCR for 142 genes. The transcripts of ERFs from group I, VII and VIII were abundant at all stages of the somatic embryogenesis process. Forty genetic expression markers for callus regeneration capacity were identified. Fourteen markers were found for proliferating calli and 35 markers for calli at the end of the embryogenesis induction phase. Sixteen markers discriminated between normal and abnormal embryos and, lastly, there were 36 markers of conversion into plantlets. A phylogenetic analysis comparing the sequences of the AP2 domains of Hevea and Arabidopsis genes enabled us to predict the function of 13 expression marker genes.
Conclusions
This first characterization of the AP2/ERF superfamily in Hevea revealed dramatic regulation of the expression of AP2/ERF genes during the somatic embryogenesis process. The gene expression markers of proliferating callus capacity to regenerate plants by somatic embryogenesis should make it possible to predict callus lines suitable to be used for multiplication. Further functional characterization of these markers opens up prospects for discovering specific AP2/ERF functions in the Hevea species for which somatic embryogenesis is difficult.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-244
PMCID: PMC3561283  PMID: 23268714
Gene expression; Plant hormone; Plant regeneration; Recalcitrant; Rubber; Signalling; Transcription factor
23.  Mutation at Tyrosine in AMLRY (GILRY Like) Motif of Yeast eRF1 on Nonsense Codons Suppression and Binding Affinity to eRF3 
Termination translation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is controlled by two interacting polypeptide chain release factors, eRF1 and eRF3. Two regions in human eRF1, position at 281-305 and position at 411-415, were proposed to be involved on the interaction to eRF3. In this study we have constructed and characterized yeast eRF1 mutant at position 410 (correspond to 415 human eRF1) from tyrosine to serine residue resulting eRF1(Y410S). The mutations did not affect the viability and temperature sensitivity of the cell. The stop codons suppression of the mutant was analyzed in vivo using PGK-stop codon-LACZ gene fusion and showed that the suppression of the mutant was significantly increased in all of codon terminations. The suppression on UAG codon was the highest increased among the stop codons by comparing the suppression of the wild type respectively. In vitro interaction between eRF1 (mutant and wild type) to eRF3 were carried out using eRF1-(His)6 and eRF1(Y410S)-(His)6 expressed in Escherichia coli and indigenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae eRF3. The results showed that the binding affinity of eRF1(Y410S) to eRF3 was decreased up to 20% of the wild type binding affinity. Computer modeling analysis using Swiss-Prot and Amber version 9.0 programs revealed that the overall structure of eRF1(Y410S) has no significant different with the wild type. However, substitution of tyrosine to serine triggered the structural change on the other motif of C-terminal domain of eRF1. The data suggested that increasing stop codon suppression and decreasing of the binding affinity of eRF1(Y410S) were probably due to the slight modification on the structure of the C-terminal domain.
PMCID: PMC2359899  PMID: 18463713
eRF1; eRF3; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; termination translation; nonsense codon suppression; binding affinity
24.  Genome-wide analysis and expression profile of the bZIP transcription factor gene family in grapevine (Vitis vinifera) 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:281.
Background
Basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor gene family is one of the largest and most diverse families in plants. Current studies have shown that the bZIP proteins regulate numerous growth and developmental processes and biotic and abiotic stress responses. Nonetheless, knowledge concerning the specific expression patterns and evolutionary history of plant bZIP family members remains very limited.
Results
We identified 55 bZIP transcription factor-encoding genes in the grapevine (Vitis vinifera) genome, and divided them into 10 groups according to the phylogenetic relationship with those in Arabidopsis. The chromosome distribution and the collinearity analyses suggest that expansion of the grapevine bZIP (VvbZIP) transcription factor family was greatly contributed by the segment/chromosomal duplications, which may be associated with the grapevine genome fusion events. Nine intron/exon structural patterns within the bZIP domain and the additional conserved motifs were identified among all VvbZIP proteins, and showed a high group-specificity. The predicted specificities on DNA-binding domains indicated that some highly conserved amino acid residues exist across each major group in the tree of land plant life. The expression patterns of VvbZIP genes across the grapevine gene expression atlas, based on microarray technology, suggest that VvbZIP genes are involved in grapevine organ development, especially seed development. Expression analysis based on qRT-PCR indicated that VvbZIP genes are extensively involved in drought- and heat-responses, with possibly different mechanisms.
Conclusions
The genome-wide identification, chromosome organization, gene structures, evolutionary and expression analyses of grapevine bZIP genes provide an overall insight of this gene family and their potential involvement in growth, development and stress responses. This will facilitate further research on the bZIP gene family regarding their evolutionary history and biological functions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-281
PMCID: PMC4023599  PMID: 24725365
bZIP transcription factor family; Grapevine; Gene expression; Drought response; Heat stress response
25.  Characterization of a putative grapevine Zn transporter, VvZIP3, suggests its involvement in early reproductive development in Vitis vinifera L 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:111.
Background
Zinc (Zn) deficiency is one of the most widespread mineral nutritional problems that affect normal development in plants. Because Zn cannot passively diffuse across cell membranes, it must be transported into intracellular compartments for all biological processes where Zn is required. Several members of the Zinc-regulated transporters, Iron-regulated transporter-like Protein (ZIP) gene family have been characterized in plants, and have shown to be involved in metal uptake and transport. This study describes the first putative Zn transporter in grapevine. Unravelling its function may explain an important symptom of Zn deficiency in grapevines, which is the production of clusters with fewer and usually smaller berries than normal.
Results
We identified and characterized a putative Zn transporter from berries of Vitis vinifera L., named VvZIP3. Compared to other members of the ZIP family identified in the Vitis vinifera L. genome, VvZIP3 is mainly expressed in reproductive tissue - specifically in developing flowers - which correlates with the high Zn accumulation in these organs. Contrary to this, the low expression of VvZIP3 in parthenocarpic berries shows a relationship with the lower Zn accumulation in this tissue than in normal seeded berries where its expression is induced by Zn. The predicted protein sequence indicates strong similarity with several members of the ZIP family from Arabidopsis thaliana and other species. Moreover, VvZIP3 complemented the growth defect of a yeast Zn-uptake mutant, ZHY3, and is localized in the plasma membrane of plant cells, suggesting that VvZIP3 has the function of a Zn uptake transporter.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that VvZIP3 encodes a putative plasma membrane Zn transporter protein member of the ZIP gene family that might play a role in Zn uptake and distribution during the early reproductive development in Vitis vinifera L., indicating that the availability of this micronutrient may be relevant for reproductive development.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-111
PMCID: PMC3432002  PMID: 22824090

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