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author:("Yan, seeming")
1.  The similar and different evolutionary trends of MATE family occurred between rice and Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2016;16:207.
Multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) transporter proteins are present in all organisms. Although the functions of some MATE gene family members have been studied in plants, few studies have investigated the gene expansion patterns, functional divergence, or the effects of positive selection.
Forty-five MATE genes from rice and 56 from Arabidopsis were identified and grouped into four subfamilies. MATE family genes have similar exon-intron structures in rice and Arabidopsis; MATE gene structures are conserved in each subfamily but differ among subfamilies. In both species, the MATE gene family has expanded mainly through tandem and segmental duplications. A transcriptome atlas showed considerable differences in expression among the genes, in terms of transcript abundance and expression patterns under normal growth conditions, indicating wide functional divergence in this family. In both rice and Arabidopsis, the MATE genes showed consistent functional divergence trends, with highly significant Type-I divergence in each subfamily, while Type-II divergence mainly occurred in subfamily III. The Type-II coefficients between rice subfamilies I/III, II/III, and IV/III were all significantly greater than zero, while only the Type-II coefficient between Arabidopsis IV/III subfamilies was significantly greater than zero.
A site-specific model analysis indicated that MATE genes have relatively conserved evolutionary trends. A branch-site model suggested that the extent of positive selection on each subfamily of rice and Arabidopsis was different: subfamily II of Arabidopsis showed higher positive selection than other subfamilies, whereas in rice, positive selection was highest in subfamily III. In addition, the analyses identified 18 rice sites and 7 Arabidopsis sites that were responsible for positive selection and for Type-I and Type-II functional divergence; there were no common sites between rice and Arabidopsis. Five coevolving amino acid sites were identified in rice and three in Arabidopsis; these sites might have important roles in maintaining local structural stability and protein functional domains.
We demonstrate that the MATE gene family expanded through tandem and segmental duplication in both rice and Arabidopsis. Overall, the results of our analyses contribute to improved understanding of the molecular evolution and functions of the MATE gene family in plants.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-016-0895-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5037600  PMID: 27669820
MATE proteins; Phylogenetic tree; Segmental duplication; Tandem duplication; Functional divergence; Positive selection
2.  First Comprehensive Proteome Analyses of Lysine Acetylation and Succinylation in Seedling Leaves of Brachypodium distachyon L. 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:31576.
Protein acetylation and succinylation are the most crucial protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) involved in the regulation of plant growth and development. In this study, we present the first lysine-acetylation and lysine-succinylation proteome analysis of seedling leaves in Brachypodium distachyon L (Bd). Using high accuracy nano LC-MS/MS combined with affinity purification, we identified a total of 636 lysine-acetylated sites in 353 proteins and 605 lysine-succinylated sites in 262 proteins. These proteins participated in many biology processes, with various molecular functions. In particular, 119 proteins and 115 sites were found to be both acetylated and succinylated, simultaneously. Among the 353 acetylated proteins, 148 had acetylation orthologs in Oryza sativa L., Arabidopsis thaliana, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, and Glycine max L. Among the 262 succinylated proteins, 170 of them were found to have homologous proteins in Oryza sativa L., Escherichia coli, Sacchayromyces cerevisiae, or Homo sapiens. Motif-X analysis of the acetylated and succinylated sites identified two new acetylated motifs (K---K and K-I-K) and twelve significantly enriched succinylated motifs for the first time, which could serve as possible binding loci for future studies in plants. Our comprehensive dataset provides a promising starting point for further functional analysis of acetylation and succinylation in Bd and other plant species.
PMCID: PMC4981852  PMID: 27515067
3.  Low molecular weight glutenin subunit gene Glu-B3h confers superior dough strength and breadmaking quality in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:27182.
Low molecular weight glutenin subunit is one of the important quality elements in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Although considerable allelic variation has been identified, the functional properties of individual alleles at Glu-3 loci are less studied. In this work, we performed the first comprehensive study on the molecular characteristics and functional properties of the Glu-B3h gene using the wheat cultivar CB037B and its Glu-B3 deletion line CB037C. The results showed that the Glu-B3h deletion had no significant effects on plant morphological or yield traits, but resulted in a clear reduction in protein body number and size and main quality parameters, including inferior mixing property, dough strength, loaf volume, and score. Molecular characterization showed that the Glu-B3h gene consists of 1179 bp, and its encoded B-subunit has a longer repetitive domain and an increased number of α-helices, as well as higher expression, which could contribute to superior flour quality. The SNP-based allele-specific PCR markers designed for the Glu-B3h gene were developed and validated with bread wheat holding various alleles at Glu-B3 locus, which could effectively distinguish the Glu-B3h gene from others at the Glu-B3 locus, and have potential applications for wheat quality improvement through marker-assisted selection.
PMCID: PMC4895167  PMID: 27273251
4.  Comparative transcriptome analysis of wheat embryo and endosperm responses to ABA and H2O2 stresses during seed germination 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:97.
Wheat embryo and endosperm play important roles in seed germination, seedling survival, and subsequent vegetative growth. ABA can positively regulate dormancy induction and negatively regulates seed germination at low concentrations, while low H2O2 concentrations promote seed germination of cereal plants. In this report, we performed the first integrative transcriptome analysis of wheat embryo and endosperm responses to ABA and H2O2 stresses.
We used the GeneChip® Wheat Genome Array to conduct a comparative transcriptome microarray analysis of the embryo and endosperm of elite Chinese bread wheat cultivar Zhengmai 9023 in response to ABA and H2O2 treatments during seed germination. Transcriptome profiling showed that after H2O2 and ABA treatments, the 64 differentially expressed genes in the embryo were closely related to DNA synthesis, CHO metabolism, hormone metabolism, and protein degradation, while 121 in the endosperm were involved mainly in storage reserves, transport, biotic and abiotic stresses, hormone metabolism, cell wall metabolism, signaling, and development. Scatter plot analysis showed that ABA treatment increased the similarity of regulated patterns between the two tissues, whereas H2O2 treatment decreased the global expression similarity. MapMan analysis provided a global view of changes in several important metabolism pathways (e.g., energy reserves mobilization, cell wall metabolism, and photosynthesis), as well as related functional groups (e.g., cellular processes, hormones, and signaling and transport) in the embryo and endosperm following exposure of seeds to ABA and H2O2 treatments during germination. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis was used to validate the expression patterns of nine differentially expressed genes.
Wheat seed germination involves regulation of a large number of genes involved in many functional groups. ABA/H2O2 can repress/promote seed germination by coordinately regulating related gene expression. Our results provide novel insights into the transcriptional regulation mechanisms of embryo and endosperm in response to ABA and H2O2 treatments during seed germination.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2416-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4743158  PMID: 26846093
Wheat; Embryo and endosperm; Seed germination; Transcriptome; ABA; H2O2
5.  Comprehensive Identification and Bread-Making Quality Evaluation of Common Wheat Somatic Variation Line AS208 on Glutenin Composition 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0146933.
High molecular weight glutenin subunits (HMW-GSs) are important seed storage proteins in wheat (Triticum aestivum) that determine wheat dough elasticity and processing quality. Clarification of the defined effectiveness of HMW-GSs is very important to breeding efforts aimed at improving wheat quality. To date, there have no report on the expression silencing and quality effects of 1Bx20 and 1By20 at the Glu-B1 locus in wheat. A wheat somatic variation line, AS208, in which both 1Bx20 and 1By20 at Glu-B1 locus were silenced, was developed recently in our laboratory. Evaluation of agronomic traits and seed storage proteins by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) indicated that AS208 was highly similar to its parental cultivar Lunxuan987 (LX987), with the exception that the composition and expression of HMW-GSs was altered. The 1Bx20 and 1By20 in AS208 were further identified to be missing by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) assays. Based on the PCR results for HMW-GS genes and their promoters in AS208 compared with LX987, 1Bx20 and 1By20 were speculated to be deleted in AS208 during in vitro culture. Quality analysis of this line with Mixograph, Farinograph, and Extensograph instruments, as well as analysis of bread-making quality traits, demonstrated that the lack of the genes encoding 1Bx20 and 1By20 caused various negative effects on dough processing and bread-making quality traits, including falling number, dough stability time, mixing tolerance index, crude protein values, wet gluten content, bread size, and internal cell structure. AS208 can potentially be used in the functional dissection of other HMW-GSs as a plant material with desirable genetic background, and in biscuit making industry as a high-quality weak gluten wheat source.
PMCID: PMC4713059  PMID: 26765256
6.  Molecular Characterization of the 14-3-3 Gene Family in Brachypodium distachyon L. Reveals High Evolutionary Conservation and Diverse Responses to Abiotic Stresses 
The 14-3-3 gene family identified in all eukaryotic organisms is involved in a wide range of biological processes, particularly in resistance to various abiotic stresses. Here, we performed the first comprehensive study on the molecular characterization, phylogenetics, and responses to various abiotic stresses of the 14-3-3 gene family in Brachypodium distachyon L. A total of seven 14-3-3 genes from B. distachyon and 120 from five main lineages among 12 species were identified, which were divided into five well-conserved subfamilies. The molecular structure analysis showed that the plant 14-3-3 gene family is highly evolutionarily conserved, although certain divergence had occurred in different subfamilies. The duplication event investigation revealed that segmental duplication seemed to be the predominant form by which the 14-3-3 gene family had expanded. Moreover, seven critical amino acids were detected, which may contribute to functional divergence. Expression profiling analysis showed that BdGF14 genes were abundantly expressed in the roots, but showed low expression in the meristems. All seven BdGF14 genes showed significant expression changes under various abiotic stresses, including heavy metal, phytohormone, osmotic, and temperature stresses, which might play important roles in responses to multiple abiotic stresses mainly through participating in ABA-dependent signaling and reactive oxygen species-mediated MAPK cascade signaling pathways. In particular, BdGF14 genes generally showed upregulated expression in response to multiple stresses of high temperature, heavy metal, abscisic acid (ABA), and salicylic acid (SA), but downregulated expression under H2O2, NaCl, and polyethylene glycol (PEG) stresses. Meanwhile, dynamic transcriptional expression analysis of BdGF14 genes under longer treatments with heavy metals (Cd2+, Cr3+, Cu2+, and Zn2+) and phytohormone (ABA) and recovery revealed two main expression trends in both roots and leaves: up-down and up-down-up expression from stress treatments to recovery. This study provides new insights into the structures and functions of plant 14-3-3 genes.
PMCID: PMC4960266  PMID: 27507982
14-3-3 genes; Brachypodium distachyon; gene structures; phylogenetic relationships; gene duplication; abiotic stress; qRT-PCR
7.  Molecular Characterization and Expression Profiling of NAC Transcription Factors in Brachypodium distachyon L 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0139794.
NAC (NAM, ATAF1/2, CUC2) transcription factors are involved in regulating plant developmental processes and response to environmental stresses. Brachypodium distachyon is an emerging model system for cereals, temperate grasses and biofuel crops. In this study, a comprehensive investigation of the molecular characterizations, phylogenetics and expression profiles under various abiotic stresses of the NAC gene family in Brachypodium distachyon was performed. In total, 118 BNAC genes in B. distachyon were identified, of which 22 (18.64%) were tandemly duplicated and segmentally duplicated, respectively. The Bayesian phylogenetic inference using Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithms showed that they were divided into two clades and fourteen subfamilies, supported by similar motif compositions within one subfamily. Some critical amino acids detected using DIVERGE v3.0 might contribute to functional divergence among subfamilies. The different exon-intron organizations among subfamilies revealed structural differentiation. Promoter sequence predictions showed that the BNAC genes were involved in various developmental processes and diverse stress responses. Three NAC domain-encoding genes (BNAC012, BNAC078 and BNAC108), orthologous of NAC1, were targeted by five miRNA164 (Bdi-miR164a-c, e, f), suggesting that they might function in lateral organ enlargement, floral development and the responses to abiotic stress. Eleven (~9.32%) BNAC proteins containing α-helical transmembrane motifs were identified. 23 representative BNAC genes were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR, showing different expression patterns under various abiotic stresses, of which 18, 17 and 11 genes were up-regulated significantly under drought, H2O2 and salt stresses, respectively. Only four and two genes were up-regulated under cold and cadmium stresses, respectively. Dynamic transcriptional expression analysis revealed that six genes showed constitutive expression and period-specific expression. The current results provide novel insights into the structure and function of the plant NAC gene family.
PMCID: PMC4596864  PMID: 26444425
8.  Identification of Low Molecular Weight Glutenin Alleles by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) in Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0138981.
Low molecular weight glutenin subunits (LMW-GS) play an important role in determining dough properties and breadmaking quality. However, resolution of the currently used methodologies for analyzing LMW-GS is rather low which prevents an efficient use of genetic variations associated with these alleles in wheat breeding. The aim of the current study is to evaluate and develop a rapid, simple, and accurate method to differentiate LMW-GS alleles using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. A set of standard single LMW-GS allele lines as well as a suite of well documented wheat cultivars were collected from France, CIMMYT, and Canada. Method development and optimization were focused on protein extraction procedures and MALDI-TOF instrument settings to generate reproducible diagnostic spectrum peak profiles for each of the known wheat LMW-GS allele. Results revealed a total of 48 unique allele combinations among the studied genotypes. Characteristic MALDI-TOF peak patterns were obtained for 17 common LMW-GS alleles, including 5 (b, a or c, d, e, f), 7 (a, b, c, d or i, f, g, h) and 5 (a, b, c, d, f) patterns or alleles for the Glu-A3, Glu-B3, and Glu-D3 loci, respectively. In addition, some reproducible MALDI-TOF peak patterns were also obtained that did not match with any known alleles. The results demonstrated a high resolution and throughput nature of MALDI-TOF technology in analyzing LMW-GS alleles, which is suitable for application in wheat breeding programs in processing a large number of wheat lines with high accuracy in limited time. It also suggested that the variation of LMW-GS alleles is more abundant than what has been defined by the current nomenclature system that is mainly based on SDS-PAGE system. The MALDI-TOF technology is useful to differentiate these variations. An international joint effort may be needed to assign allele symbols to these newly identified alleles and determine their effects on end-product quality attributes.
PMCID: PMC4583301  PMID: 26407296
9.  Identification of Leaf Proteins Differentially Accumulated between Wheat Cultivars Distinct in Their Levels of Drought Tolerance 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0125302.
The drought-tolerant ‘Ningchun 47’ (NC47) and drought-sensitive ‘Chinese Spring’ (CS) wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars were treated with different PEG6000 concentrations at the three-leaf stage. An analysis on the physiological and proteomic changes of wheat seedling in response to drought stress was performed. In total, 146 differentially accumulated protein (DAP) spots were separated and recognised using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. In total, 101 DAP spots representing 77 unique proteins were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry. These proteins were allocated to 10 groups according to putative functions, which were mainly involved in carbon metabolism (23.4%), photosynthesis/respiration (22.1%) and stress/defence/detoxification (18.2%). Some drought stress-related proteins in NC47, such as enolase, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, Oxygen-evolving enhancer protein 2, fibrillin-like protein, 2-Cys peroxiredoxin BAS1 and 70-kDa heat shock protein, were more upregulated than those in CS. Multivariate principal components analysis revealed obvious differences between the control and treatments in both NC47 and CS, while cluster analysis showed that the DAPs displayed five and six accumulation patterns in NC47 and CS, respectively. Protein–protein interaction network analysis showed that some key DAPs, such as 2-Cys peroxiredoxin BAS1, RuBisCO large subunit-binding protein, 50S ribosomal protein L1, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase isoenzyme and 70-kDa heat shock protein, with upregulated accumulation in NC47, had complex interactions with other proteins related to amino acid metabolism, carbon metabolism, energy pathway, signal transduction, stress/defence/detoxification, protein folding and nucleotide metabolism. These proteins could play important roles in drought-stress tolerance and contribute to the relatively stronger drought tolerance of NC47.
PMCID: PMC4436182  PMID: 25984726
10.  Comparative proteome analysis of embryo and endosperm reveals central differential expression proteins involved in wheat seed germination 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:97.
Wheat seeds provide a staple food and an important protein source for the world’s population. Seed germination is vital to wheat growth and development and directly affects grain yield and quality. In this study, we performed the first comparative proteomic analysis of wheat embryo and endosperm during seed germination.
The proteomic changes in embryo and endosperm during the four different seed germination stages of elite Chinese bread wheat cultivar Zhengmai 9023 were first investigated. In total, 74 and 34 differentially expressed protein (DEP) spots representing 63 and 26 unique proteins were identified in embryo and endosperm, respectively. Eight common DEP were present in both tissues, and 55 and 18 DEP were specific to embryo and endosperm, respectively. These identified DEP spots could be sorted into 13 functional groups, in which the main group was involved in different metabolism pathways, particularly in the reserves necessary for mobilization in preparation for seed germination. The DEPs from the embryo were mainly related to carbohydrate metabolism, proteometabolism, amino acid metabolism, nucleic acid metabolism, and stress-related proteins, whereas those from the endosperm were mainly involved in protein storage, carbohydrate metabolism, inhibitors, stress response, and protein synthesis. During seed germination, both embryo and endosperm had a basic pattern of oxygen consumption, so the proteins related to respiration and energy metabolism were up-regulated or down-regulated along with respiration of wheat seeds. When germination was complete, most storage proteins from the endosperm began to be mobilized, but only a small amount was degraded during germination. Transcription expression of six representative DEP genes at the mRNA level was consistent with their protein expression changes.
Wheat seed germination is a complex process with imbibition, stirring, and germination stages, which involve a series of physiological, morphological, and proteomic changes. The first process is a rapid water uptake, in which the seed coat becomes softer and the physical state of storage materials change gradually. Then the germinated seed enters the second process (a plateau phase) and the third process (the embryonic axes elongation). Seed embryo and endosperm display distinct differentially expressed proteins, and their synergistic expression mechanisms provide a basis for the normal germination of wheat seeds.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-015-0471-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4407426  PMID: 25888100
Wheat seeds; Germination; Embryo; Endosperm; Proteome; qRT-PCR
11.  Proteomic Analysis Reveals Key Proteins and Phosphoproteins upon Seed Germination of Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the oldest cultivated crops and the second most important food crop in the world. Seed germination is the key developmental process in plant growth and development, and poor germination directly affects plant growth and subsequent grain yield. In this study, we performed the first dynamic proteome analysis of wheat seed germination using a two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE)-based proteomic approach. A total of 166 differentially expressed protein (DEP) spots representing 73 unique proteins were identified, which are mainly involved in storage, stress/defense/detoxification, carbohydrate metabolism, photosynthesis, cell metabolism, and transcription/translation/transposition. The identified DEPs and their dynamic expression profiles generally correspond to three distinct seed germination phases after imbibition: storage degradation, physiological processes/morphogenesis, and photosynthesis. Some key DEPs involved in storage substance degradation and plant defense mechanisms, such as globulin 3, sucrose synthase type I, serpin, beta-amylase, and plastid ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase) small subunit, were found to be phosphorylated during seed germination. Particularly, the phosphorylation site Ser355 was found to be located in the enzyme active region of beta-amylase, which promotes substrate binding. Phosphorylated modification of several proteins could promote storage substance degradation and environmental stress defense during seed germination. The central metabolic pathways involved in wheat seed germination are proposed herein, providing new insights into the molecular mechanisms of cereal seed germination.
PMCID: PMC4649031  PMID: 26635843
bread wheat; seed germination; 2D-DIGE; proteome; phosphoproteins
12.  Deletion of the low-molecular-weight glutenin subunit allele Glu-A3a of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) significantly reduces dough strength and breadmaking quality 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:367.
Low-molecular-weight glutenin subunits (LMW-GS), encoded by Glu-3 complex loci in hexaploid wheat, play important roles in the processing quality of wheat flour. To date, the molecular characteristics and effects on dough quality of individual Glu-3 alleles and their encoding proteins have been poorly studied. We used a Glu-A3 deletion line of the Chinese Spring (CS-n) wheat variety to conduct the first comprehensive study on the molecular characteristics and functional properties of the LMW-GS allele Glu-A3a.
The Glu-A3a allele at the Glu-A3 locus in CS and its deletion in CS-n were identified and characterized by proteome and molecular marker methods. The deletion of Glu-A3a had no significant influence on plant morphological and yield traits, but significantly reduced the dough strength and breadmaking quality compared to CS. The complete sequence of the Glu-A3a allele was cloned and characterized, which was found to encode a B-subunit with longer repetitive domains and an increased number of α-helices. The Glu-A3a-encoded B-subunit showed a higher expression level and accumulation rate during grain development. These characteristics of the Glu-A3a allele could contribute to achieving superior gluten quality and demonstrate its potential application to wheat quality improvement. Furthermore, an allele-specific polymerase chain reaction (AS-PCR) marker for the Glu-A3a allele was developed and validated using different bread wheat cultivars, including near-isogenic lines (NILs) and recombinant inbred lines (RILs), which could be used as an effective molecular marker for gluten quality improvement through marker-assisted selection.
This work demonstrated that the LMW-GS allele Glu-A3a encodes a specific LMW-i type B-subunit that significantly affects wheat dough strength and breadmaking quality. The Glu-A3a-encoded B-subunit has a long repetitive domain and more α-helix structures as well as a higher expression level and accumulation rate during grain development, which could facilitate the formation of wheat with a stronger dough structure and superior breadmaking quality.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0367-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4275963  PMID: 25524150
Wheat; Glu-A3a; Molecular cloning; Dough strength; Breadmaking quality
13.  Unusual tandem expansion and positive selection in subgroups of the plant GRAS transcription factor superfamily 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:373.
GRAS proteins belong to a plant transcription factor family that is involved with multifarious roles in plants. Although previous studies of this protein family have been reported for Arabidopsis, rice, Chinese cabbage and other species, investigation of expansion patterns and evolutionary rate on the basis of comparative genomics in different species remains inadequate.
A total of 289 GRAS genes were identified in Arabidopsis, B. distachyon, rice, soybean, S. moellendorffii, and P. patens and were grouped into seven subfamilies, supported by the similarity of their exon–intron patterns and structural motifs. All of tandem duplicated genes were found in group II except one cluster of rice, indicating that tandem duplication greatly promoted the expansion of group II. Furthermore, segment duplications were mainly found in the soybean genome, whereas no single expansion pattern dominated in other plant species indicating that GRAS genes from these five species might be subject to a more complex evolutionary mechanism. Interestingly, branch-site model analyses of positive selection showed that a number of sites were positively selected under foreground branches I and V. These results strongly indicated that these groups were experiencing higher positive selection pressure. Meanwhile, the site-specific model revealed that the GRAS genes were under strong positive selection in P. patens. DIVERGE v2.0 was used to detect critical amino acid sites, and the results showed that the shifted evolutionary rate was mainly attributed to the functional divergence between the GRAS genes in the two groups. In addition, the results also demonstrated the expression divergence of the GRAS duplicated genes in the evolution. In short, the results above provide a solid foundation for further functional dissection of the GRAS gene superfamily.
In this work, differential expression, evolutionary rate, and expansion patterns of the GRAS gene family in the six species were predicted. Especially, tandem duplication events played an important role in expansion of group II. Together, these results contribute to further functional analysis and the molecular evolution of the GRAS gene superfamily.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0373-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4279901  PMID: 25524588
14.  iTRAQ-based quantitative proteome and phosphoprotein characterization reveals the central metabolism changes involved in wheat grain development 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1029.
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is an economically important grain crop. Two-dimensional gel-based approaches are limited by the low identification rate of proteins and lack of accurate protein quantitation. The recently developed isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) method allows sensitive and accurate protein quantification. Here, we performed the first iTRAQ-based quantitative proteome and phosphorylated proteins analyses during wheat grain development.
The proteome profiles and phosphoprotein characterization of the metabolic proteins during grain development of the elite Chinese bread wheat cultivar Yanyou 361 were studied using the iTRAQ-based quantitative proteome approach, TiO2 microcolumns, and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Among 1,146 non-redundant proteins identified, 421 showed at least 2-fold differences in abundance, and they were identified as differentially expressed proteins (DEPs), including 256 upregulated and 165 downregulated proteins. Of the 421 DEPs, six protein expression patterns were identified, most of which were up, down, and up-down expression patterns. The 421 DEPs were classified into nine functional categories mainly involved in different metabolic processes and located in the membrane and cytoplasm. Hierarchical clustering analysis indicated that the DEPs involved in starch biosynthesis, storage proteins, and defense/stress-related proteins significantly accumulated at the late grain development stages, while those related to protein synthesis/assembly/degradation and photosynthesis showed an opposite expression model during grain development. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis of 12 representative genes encoding different metabolic proteins showed certain transcriptional and translational expression differences during grain development. Phosphorylated proteins analyses demonstrated that 23 DEPs such as AGPase, sucrose synthase, Hsp90, and serpins were phosphorylated in the developing grains and were mainly involved in starch biosynthesis and stress/defense.
Our results revealed a complex quantitative proteome and phosphorylation profile during wheat grain development. Numerous DEPs are involved in grain starch and protein syntheses as well as adverse defense, which set an important basis for wheat yield and quality. Particularly, some key DEPs involved in starch biosynthesis and stress/defense were phosphorylated, suggesting their roles in wheat grain development.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1029) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4301063  PMID: 25427527
Wheat; Grain proteome; iTRAQ; Phosphoproteins; qRT-PCR
15.  Molecular cloning, phylogenetic analysis, and expression profiling of endoplasmic reticulum molecular chaperone BiP genes from bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:260.
The endoplasmic reticulum chaperone binding protein (BiP) is an important functional protein, which is involved in protein synthesis, folding assembly, and secretion. In order to study the role of BiP in the process of wheat seed development, we cloned three BiP homologous cDNA sequences in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum), completed by rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE), and examined the expression of wheat BiP in wheat tissues, particularly the relationship between BiP expression and the subunit types of HMW-GS using near-isogenic lines (NILs) of HMW-GS silencing, and under abiotic stress.
Sequence analysis demonstrated that all BiPs contained three highly conserved domains present in plants, animals, and microorganisms, indicating their evolutionary conservation among different biological species. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) revealed that TaBiP (Triticum aestivum BiP) expression was not organ-specific, but was predominantly localized to seed endosperm. Furthermore, immunolocalization confirmed that TaBiP was primarily located within the protein bodies (PBs) in wheat endosperm. Three TaBiP genes exhibited significantly down-regulated expression following high molecular weight-glutenin subunit (HMW-GS) silencing. Drought stress induced significantly up-regulated expression of TaBiPs in wheat roots, leaves, and developing grains.
The high conservation of BiP sequences suggests that BiP plays the same role, or has common mechanisms, in the folding and assembly of nascent polypeptides and protein synthesis across species. The expression of TaBiPs in different wheat tissue and under abiotic stress indicated that TaBiP is most abundant in tissues with high secretory activity and with high proportions of cells undergoing division, and that the expression level of BiP is associated with the subunit types of HMW-GS and synthesis. The expression of TaBiPs is developmentally regulated during seed development and early seedling growth, and under various abiotic stresses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0260-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4189733  PMID: 25273817
Wheat; BiP; Cloning; Expression; HMW-GS silencing; Drought stress
16.  Dynamic development of starch granules and the regulation of starch biosynthesis in Brachypodium distachyon: comparison with common wheat and Aegilops peregrina 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:198.
Thorough understanding of seed starch biosynthesis and accumulation mechanisms is of great importance for agriculture and crop improvement strategies. We conducted the first comprehensive study of the dynamic development of starch granules and the regulation of starch biosynthesis in Brachypodium distachyon and compared the findings with those reported for common wheat (Chinese Spring, CS) and Aegilops peregrina.
Only B-granules were identified in Brachypodium Bd21, and the shape variation and development of starch granules were similar in the B-granules of CS and Bd21. Phylogenetic analysis showed that most of the Bd21 starch synthesis-related genes were more similar to those in wheat than in rice. Early expression of key genes in Bd21 starch biosynthesis mediate starch synthesis in the pericarp; intermediate-stage expression increases the number and size of starch granules. In contrast, these enzymes in CS and Ae. peregrina were mostly expressed at intermediate stages, driving production of new B-granules and increasing the granule size, respectively. Immunogold labeling showed that granule-bound starch synthase (GBSSI; related to amylose synthesis) was mainly present in starch granules: at lower levels in the B-granules of Bd21 than in CS. Furthermore, GBSSI was phosphorylated at threonine 183 and tyrosine 185 in the starch synthase catalytic domain in CS and Ae. peregrina, but neither site was phosphorylated in Bd21, suggesting GBSSI phosphorylation could improve amylose biosynthesis.
Bd21 contains only B-granules, and the expression of key genes in the three studied genera is consistent with the dynamic development of starch granules. GBSSI is present in greater amounts in the B-granules of CS than in Bd21; two phosphorylation sites (Thr183 and Tyr185) were found in Triticum and Aegilops; these sites were not phosphorylated in Bd21. GBSSI phosphorylation may reflect its importance in amylose synthesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0198-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4256708  PMID: 25095703
Brachypodium Bd21; B-granules; Starch biosynthesis; Expression profiling; GBSSI; Phosphorylation
17.  Molecular Characterization and Expression Profiling of the Protein Disulfide Isomerase Gene Family in Brachypodium distachyon L 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94704.
Protein disulfide isomerases (PDI) are involved in catalyzing protein disulfide bonding and isomerization in the endoplasmic reticulum and functions as a chaperone to inhibit the aggregation of misfolded proteins. Brachypodium distachyon is a widely used model plant for temperate grass species such as wheat and barley. In this work, we report the first molecular characterization, phylogenies, and expression profiles of PDI and PDI-like (PDIL) genes in B. distachyon in different tissues under various abiotic stresses. Eleven PDI and PDIL genes in the B. distachyon genome by in silico identification were evenly distributed across all five chromosomes. The plant PDI family has three conserved motifs that are involved in catalyzing protein disulfide bonding and isomerization, but a different exon/intron structural organization showed a high degree of structural differentiation. Two pairs of genes (BdPDIL4-1 and BdPDIL4-2; BdPDIL7-1 and BdPDIL7-2) contained segmental duplications, indicating each pair originated from one progenitor. Promoter analysis showed that Brachypodium PDI family members contained important cis-acting regulatory elements involved in seed storage protein synthesis and diverse stress response. All Brachypodium PDI genes investigated were ubiquitously expressed in different organs, but differentiation in expression levels among different genes and organs was clear. BdPDIL1-1 and BdPDIL5-1 were expressed abundantly in developing grains, suggesting that they have important roles in synthesis and accumulation of seed storage proteins. Diverse treatments (drought, salt, ABA, and H2O2) induced up- and down-regulated expression of Brachypodium PDI genes in seedling leaves. Interestingly, BdPDIL1-1 displayed significantly up-regulated expression following all abiotic stress treatments, indicating that it could be involved in multiple stress responses. Our results provide new insights into the structural and functional characteristics of the plant PDI gene family.
PMCID: PMC3991636  PMID: 24747843
18.  Soybean (Glycine max) expansin gene superfamily origins: segmental and tandem duplication events followed by divergent selection among subfamilies 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:93.
Expansins are plant cell wall loosening proteins that are involved in cell enlargement and a variety of other developmental processes. The expansin superfamily contains four subfamilies; namely, α-expansin (EXPA), β-expansin (EXPB), expansin-like A (EXLA), and expansin-like B (EXLB). Although the genome sequencing of soybeans is complete, our knowledge about the pattern of expansion and evolutionary history of soybean expansin genes remains limited.
A total of 75 expansin genes were identified in the soybean genome, and grouped into four subfamilies based on their phylogenetic relationships. Structural analysis revealed that the expansin genes are conserved in each subfamily, but are divergent among subfamilies. Furthermore, in soybean and Arabidopsis, the expansin gene family has been mainly expanded through tandem and segmental duplications; however, in rice, segmental duplication appears to be the dominant process that generates this superfamily. The transcriptome atlas revealed notable differential expression in either transcript abundance or expression patterns under normal growth conditions. This finding was consistent with the differential distribution of the cis-elements in the promoter region, and indicated wide functional divergence in this superfamily. Moreover, some critical amino acids that contribute to functional divergence and positive selection were detected. Finally, site model and branch-site model analysis of positive selection indicated that the soybean expansin gene superfamily is under strong positive selection, and that divergent selection constraints might have influenced the evolution of the four subfamilies.
This study demonstrated that the soybean expansin gene superfamily has expanded through tandem and segmental duplication. Differential expression indicated wide functional divergence in this superfamily. Furthermore, positive selection analysis revealed that divergent selection constraints might have influenced the evolution of the four subfamilies. In conclusion, the results of this study contribute novel detailed information about the molecular evolution of the expansin gene superfamily in soybean.
PMCID: PMC4021193  PMID: 24720629
19.  Transcriptome analysis during seed germination of elite Chinese bread wheat cultivar Jimai 20 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:20.
Wheat seed germination directly affects wheat yield and quality. Although transcriptome and proteome analyses during seed germination have been reported in some crop plant species, dynamic transcriptome characterization during wheat seed germination has not been conducted. We performed the first comprehensive dynamic transcriptome analysis during different seed germination stages of elite Chinese bread wheat cultivar Jimai 20 using the Affymetrix Wheat Genome Array.
A total of 61,703 probe sets representing 51,411 transcripts were identified during the five seed germination stages of Jimai 20, of which 2,825 differential expression probe sets corresponding to 2,646 transcripts with different functions were declared by ANOVA and a randomized variance model. The seed germination process included a rapid initial uptake phase (0–12 hours after imbibition [HAI]), a plateau phase (12–24 HAI), and a further water uptake phase (24–48 HAI), corresponding to switches from the degradation of small-molecule sucrose to the metabolism of three major nutrients and to photosynthesis. Hierarchical cluster and MapMan analyses revealed changes in several significant metabolism pathways during seed germination as well as related functional groups. The signal pathway networks constructed with KEGG showed three important genes encoding the phosphofructokinase family protein, with fructose-1, 6-bisphosphatase, and UTP-glucose-1-phosphate uridylyltransferase located at the center, indicating their pivotal roles in the glycolytic pathway, gluconeogenesis, and glycogenesis, respectively. Several significant pathways were selected to establish a metabolic pathway network according to their degree value, which allowed us to find the pathways vital to seed germination. Furthermore, 51 genes involved in transport, signaling pathway, development, lipid metabolism, defense response, nitrogen metabolism, and transcription regulation were analyzed by gene co-expression network with a k-core algorithm to determine which play pivotal roles in germination. Twenty-three meaningful genes were found, and quantitative RT-PCR analysis validated the expression patterns of 12 significant genes.
Wheat seed germination comprises three distinct phases and includes complicated regulation networks involving a large number of genes. These genes belong to many functional groups, and their co-regulations guarantee regular germination. Our results provide new insight into metabolic changes during seed germination and interactions between some significant genes.
PMCID: PMC3923396  PMID: 24410729
Bread wheat; Seed germination; Transcriptome; qRT-PCR
20.  Global Analysis of Differentially Expressed Genes and Proteins in the Wheat Callus Infected by Agrobacterium tumefaciens 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79390.
Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation is an extremely complex and evolved process involving genetic determinants of both the bacteria and the host plant cells. However, the mechanism of the determinants remains obscure, especially in some cereal crops such as wheat, which is recalcitrant for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. In this study, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) were analyzed in wheat callus cells co-cultured with Agrobacterium by using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) in conjunction with mass spectrometry (MS). A set of 4,889 DEGs and 90 DEPs were identified, respectively. Most of them are related to metabolism, chromatin assembly or disassembly and immune defense. After comparative analysis, 24 of the 90 DEPs were detected in RNA-seq and proteomics datasets simultaneously. In addition, real-time RT-PCR experiments were performed to check the differential expression of the 24 genes, and the results were consistent with the RNA-seq data. According to gene ontology (GO) analysis, we found that a big part of these differentially expressed genes were related to the process of stress or immunity response. Several putative determinants and candidate effectors responsive to Agrobacterium mediated transformation of wheat cells were discussed. We speculate that some of these genes are possibly related to Agrobacterium infection. Our results will help to understand the interaction between Agrobacterium and host cells, and may facilitate developing efficient transformation strategies in cereal crops.
PMCID: PMC3835833  PMID: 24278131
21.  The large soybean (Glycine max) WRKY TF family expanded by segmental duplication events and subsequent divergent selection among subgroups 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:148.
WRKY genes encode one of the most abundant groups of transcription factors in higher plants, and its members regulate important biological process such as growth, development, and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. Although the soybean genome sequence has been published, functional studies on soybean genes still lag behind those of other species.
We identified a total of 133 WRKY members in the soybean genome. According to structural features of their encoded proteins and to the phylogenetic tree, the soybean WRKY family could be classified into three groups (groups I, II, and III). A majority of WRKY genes (76.7%; 102 of 133) were segmentally duplicated and 13.5% (18 of 133) of the genes were tandemly duplicated. This pattern was not apparent in Arabidopsis or rice. The transcriptome atlas revealed notable differential expression in either transcript abundance or in expression patterns under normal growth conditions, which indicated wide functional divergence in this family. Furthermore, some critical amino acids were detected using DIVERGE v2.0 in specific comparisons, suggesting that these sites have contributed to functional divergence among groups or subgroups. In addition, site model and branch-site model analyses of positive Darwinian selection (PDS) showed that different selection regimes could have affected the evolution of these groups. Sites with high probabilities of having been under PDS were found in groups I, II c, II e, and III. Together, these results contribute to a detailed understanding of the molecular evolution of the WRKY gene family in soybean.
In this work, all the WRKY genes, which were generated mainly through segmental duplication, were identified in the soybean genome. Moreover, differential expression and functional divergence of the duplicated WRKY genes were two major features of this family throughout their evolutionary history. Positive selection analysis revealed that the different groups have different evolutionary rates. Together, these results contribute to a detailed understanding of the molecular evolution of the WRKY gene family in soybean.
PMCID: PMC3850935  PMID: 24088323
22.  Correction: Molecular Mechanisms of HMW Glutenin Subunits from 1Sl Genome of Aegilops longissima Positively Affecting Wheat Breadmaking Quality 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):10.1371/annotation/d86a2c61-0953-4555-95bc-1ae9b8e3452c.
PMCID: PMC3734319
23.  Molecular Mechanisms of HMW Glutenin Subunits from 1Sl Genome of Aegilops longissima Positively Affecting Wheat Breadmaking Quality 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e58947.
A wheat cultivar “Chinese Spring” chromosome substitution line CS-1Sl(1B), in which the 1B chromosome was substituted by 1Sl from Aegilops longissima, was developed and found to possess superior dough and breadmaking quality. The molecular mechanism of its super quality conformation is studied in the aspects of high molecular glutenin genes, protein accumulation patterns, glutenin polymeric proteins, protein bodies, starch granules, and protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) and PDI-like protein expressions. Results showed that the introduced HMW-GS 1Sl×2.3* and 1Sly16* in the substitution line possesses long repetitive domain, making both be larger than any known x- and y-type subunits from B genome. The introduced subunit genes were also found to have a higher level of mRNA expressions during grain development, resulting in more HMW-GS accumulation in the mature grains. A higher abundance of PDI and PDI-like proteins was observed which possess a known function of assisting disulfide bond formation. Larger HMW-GS deposited in protein bodies were also found in the substitution line. The CS substitution line is expected to be highly valuable in wheat quality improvement since the novel HMW-GS are located on chromosome 1Sl, making it possible to combine with the known superior D×5+Dy10 subunits encoded by Glu-D1 for developing high quality bread wheat.
PMCID: PMC3617193  PMID: 23593125
24.  Molecular characterization of LMW-GS genes in Brachypodium distachyon L. reveals highly conserved Glu-3 loci in Triticum and related species 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:221.
Brachypodium distachyon L. is a newly emerging model plant system for temperate cereal crop species. However, its grain protein compositions are still not clear. In the current study, we carried out a detailed proteomics and molecular genetics study on grain glutenin proteins in B. distachyon.
SDS-PAGE and RP-HPLC analysis of grain proteins showed that Brachypodium has few gliadins and high molecular weight glutenin subunits. In contrast the electrophoretic patterns for the albumin, globulin and low molecular weight glutenin subunit (LMW-GS) fractions of the grain protein were similar to those in wheat. In particular, the LMW-C type subunits in Brachypodium were more abundant than the equivalent proteins in common wheat. Southern blotting analysis confirmed that Brachypodium has 4–5 copies of LMW-GS genes. A total of 18 LMW-GS genes were cloned from Brachypodium by allele specific PCR. LMW-GS and 4 deduced amino acid sequences were further confirmed by using Western-blotting and MALDI-TOF-MS. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that Brachypodium was closer to Ae. markgrafii and Ae. umbellulata than to T. aestivum.
Brachypodium possessed a highly conserved Glu-3 locus that is closely related to Triticum and related species. The presence of LMW-GS in B. distachyon grains indicates that B. distachyon may be used as a model system for studying wheat quality attributes.
PMCID: PMC3547698  PMID: 23171363
25.  Proteome characterization of developing grains in bread wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:147.
The analyses of protein synthesis, accumulation and regulation during grain development in wheat are more complex because of its larger genome size compared to model plants such as Arabidopsis and rice. In this study, grains from two wheat cultivars Jimai 20 and Zhoumai 16 with different gluten quality properties were harvested at five development stages, and were used to displayed variable expression patterns of grain proteins.
Proteome characterization during grain development in Chinese bread wheat cultivars Jimai 20 and Zhoumai 16 with different quality properties was investigated by 2-DE and tandem MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS. Identification of 117 differentially accumulated protein spots representing 82 unique proteins and five main expression patterns enabled a chronological description of wheat grain formation. Significant proteome expression differences between the two cultivars were found; these included 14 protein spots that accumulated in both cultivars but with different patterns and 27 cultivar-different spots. Among the cultivar-different protein spots, 14 accumulated in higher abundance in Jimai 20 than in Zhoumai 16, and included NAD-dependent isocitrate dehydrogenase, triticin precursor, LMW-s glutenin subunit and replication factor C-like protein. These proteins are likely to be associated with superior gluten quality. In addition, some proteins such as class II chitinase and peroxidase 1 with isoforms in developing grains were shown to be phosphorylated by Pro-Q Diamond staining and phosphorprotein site prediction. Phosphorylation could have important roles in wheat grain development. qRT-PCR analysis demonstrated that transcriptional and translational expression patterns of many genes were significantly different.
Wheat grain proteins displayed variable expression patterns at different developmental stages and a considerable number of protein spots showed differential accumulation between two cultivars. Differences in seed storage proteins were considered to be related to different quality performance of the flour from these wheat cultivars. Some proteins with isoforms were phosphorylated, and this may reflect their importance in grain development. Our results provide new insights into proteome characterization during grain development in different wheat genotypes.
PMCID: PMC3480910  PMID: 22900893
Wheat; Grain proteome; Phosphorproteins; 2-DE; Tandem MS; qRT-PCR

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