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1.  Identification and characterization of CBL and CIPK gene families in canola (Brassica napus L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:8.
Canola (Brassica napus L.) is one of the most important oil-producing crops in China and worldwide. The yield and quality of canola is frequently threatened by environmental stresses including drought, cold and high salinity. Calcium is a ubiquitous intracellular secondary messenger in plants. Calcineurin B-like proteins (CBLs) are Ca2+ sensors and regulate a group of Ser/Thr protein kinases called CBL-interacting protein kinases (CIPKs). Although the CBL-CIPK network has been demonstrated to play crucial roles in plant development and responses to various environmental stresses in Arabidopsis, little is known about their function in canola.
In the present study, we identified seven CBL and 23 CIPK genes from canola by database mining and cloning of cDNA sequences of six CBLs and 17 CIPKs. Phylogenetic analysis of CBL and CIPK gene families across a variety of species suggested genome duplication and diversification. The subcellular localization of three BnaCBLs and two BnaCIPKs were determined using green fluorescence protein (GFP) as the reporter. We also demonstrated interactions between six BnaCBLs and 17 BnaCIPKs using yeast two-hybrid assay, and a subset of interactions were further confirmed by bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC). Furthermore, the expression levels of six selected BnaCBL and 12 BnaCIPK genes in response to salt, drought, cold, heat, ABA, methyl viologen (MV) and low potassium were examined by quantitative RT-PCR and these CBL or CIPK genes were found to respond to multiple stimuli, suggesting that the canola CBL-CIPK network may be a point of convergence for several different signaling pathways. We also performed a comparison of interaction patterns and expression profiles of CBL and CIPK in Arabidospsis, canola and rice, to examine the differences between orthologs, highlighting the importance of studying CBL-CIPK in canola as a prerequisite for improvement of this crop.
Our findings indicate that CBL and CIPK family members may form a dynamic complex to respond to different abiotic or hormone signaling. Our comparative analyses of the CBL-CIPK network between canola, Arabidopsis and rice highlight functional differences and the necessity to study CBL-CIPK gene functions in canola. Our data constitute a valuable resource for CBL and CPK genomics.
PMCID: PMC3890537  PMID: 24397480
Abiotic stress; Brassica napus; CBL; CIPK
2.  Identification and expression analysis of WRKY transcription factor genes in canola (Brassica napus L.) in response to fungal pathogens and hormone treatments 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:68.
Members of plant WRKY transcription factor families are widely implicated in defense responses and various other physiological processes. For canola (Brassica napus L.), no WRKY genes have been described in detail. Because of the economic importance of this crop, and its evolutionary relationship to Arabidopsis thaliana, we sought to characterize a subset of canola WRKY genes in the context of pathogen and hormone responses.
In this study, we identified 46 WRKY genes from canola by mining the expressed sequence tag (EST) database and cloned cDNA sequences of 38 BnWRKYs. A phylogenetic tree was constructed using the conserved WRKY domain amino acid sequences, which demonstrated that BnWRKYs can be divided into three major groups. We further compared BnWRKYs to the 72 WRKY genes from Arabidopsis and 91 WRKY from rice, and we identified 46 presumptive orthologs of AtWRKY genes. We examined the subcellular localization of four BnWRKY proteins using green fluorescent protein (GFP) and we observed the fluorescent green signals in the nucleus only.
The responses of 16 selected BnWRKY genes to two fungal pathogens, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria brassicae, were analyzed by quantitative real time-PCR (qRT-PCR). Transcript abundance of 13 BnWRKY genes changed significantly following pathogen challenge: transcripts of 10 WRKYs increased in abundance, two WRKY transcripts decreased after infection, and one decreased at 12 h post-infection but increased later on (72 h). We also observed that transcript abundance of 13/16 BnWRKY genes was responsive to one or more hormones, including abscisic acid (ABA), and cytokinin (6-benzylaminopurine, BAP) and the defense signaling molecules jasmonic acid (JA), salicylic acid (SA), and ethylene (ET). We compared these transcript expression patterns to those previously described for presumptive orthologs of these genes in Arabidopsis and rice, and observed both similarities and differences in expression patterns.
We identified a set of 13 BnWRKY genes from among 16 BnWRKY genes assayed, that are responsive to both fungal pathogens and hormone treatments, suggesting shared signaling mechanisms for these responses. This study suggests that a large number of BnWRKY proteins are involved in the transcriptional regulation of defense-related genes in response to fungal pathogens and hormone stimuli.
PMCID: PMC2698848  PMID: 19493335
3.  Transcriptional profiling of pea ABR17 mediated changes in gene expression in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:91.
Pathogenesis-related proteins belonging to group 10 (PR10) are elevated in response to biotic and abiotic stresses in plants. Previously, we have shown a drastic salinity-induced increase in the levels of ABR17, a member of the PR10 family, in pea. Furthermore, we have also demonstrated that the constitutive expression of pea ABR17 cDNA in Arabidopsis thaliana and Brassica napus enhances their germination and early seedling growth under stress. Although it has been reported that several members of the PR10 family including ABR17 possess RNase activity, the exact mechanism by which the aforementioned characteristics are conferred by ABR17 is unknown at this time. We hypothesized that a study of differences in transcriptome between wild type (WT) and ABR17 transgenic A. thaliana may shed light on this process.
The molecular changes brought about by the expression of pea ABR17 cDNA in A. thaliana in the presence or absence of salt stress were investigated using microarrays consisting of 70-mer oligonucleotide probes representing 23,686 Arabidopsis genes. Statistical analysis identified number of genes which were over represented among up- or down-regulated transcripts in the transgenic line. Our results highlight the important roles of many abscisic acid (ABA) and cytokinin (CK) responsive genes in ABR17 transgenic lines. Although the transcriptional changes followed a general salt response theme in both WT and transgenic seedlings under salt stress, many genes exhibited differential expression patterns when the transgenic and WT lines were compared. These genes include plant defensins, heat shock proteins, other defense related genes, and several transcriptional factors. Our microarray results for selected genes were validated using quantitative real-time PCR.
Transcriptional analysis in ABR17 transgenic Arabidopsis plants, both under normal and saline conditions, revealed significant changes in abundance of transcripts for many stress responsive genes, as well as those related to plant growth and development. Our results also suggest that ABR17 may mediate stress tolerance through the modulation of many ABA- and CK-responsive genes and may further our understanding of the role of ABR17 in mediating plant stress responses.
PMCID: PMC2559843  PMID: 18783601
4.  A flax fibre proteome: identification of proteins enriched in bast fibres 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:52.
Bast fibres from the phloem tissues of flax are scientifically interesting and economically useful due in part to a dynamic system of secondary cell wall deposition. To better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the process of cell wall development in flax, we extracted proteins from individually dissected phloem fibres (i.e. individual cells) at an early stage of secondary cell wall development, and compared these extracts to protein extracts from surrounding, non-fibre cells of the cortex, using fluorescent (DiGE) labels and 2D-gel electrophoresis, with identities assigned to some proteins by mass spectrometry.
The abundance of many proteins in fibres was notably different from the surrounding non-fibre cells of the cortex, with approximately 13% of the 1,850 detectable spots being significantly (> 1.5 fold, p ≤ 0.05) enriched in fibres. Following mass spectrometry, we assigned identity to 114 spots, of which 51 were significantly enriched in fibres. We observed that a K+ channel subunit, annexins, porins, secretory pathway components, β-amylase, β-galactosidase and pectin and galactan biosynthetic enzymes were among the most highly enriched proteins detected in developing flax fibres, with many of these proteins showing electrophoretic patterns consistent with post-translational modifications.
The fibre-enriched proteins we identified are consistent with the dynamic process of secondary wall deposition previously suggested by histological and biochemical analyses, and particularly the importance of galactans and the secretory pathway in this process. The apparent abundance of β-amylase suggests that starch may be an unappreciated source of materials for cell wall biogenesis in flax bast fibres. Furthermore, our observations confirm previous reports that correlate accumulation proteins such as annexins, and specific heat shock proteins with secondary cell wall deposition.
PMCID: PMC2408578  PMID: 18447950
5.  Comprehensive transcriptional profiling of NaCl-stressed Arabidopsis roots reveals novel classes of responsive genes 
BMC Plant Biology  2006;6:25.
Roots are an attractive system for genomic and post-genomic studies of NaCl responses, due to their primary importance to agriculture, and because of their relative structural and biochemical simplicity. Excellent genomic resources have been established for the study of Arabidopsis roots, however, a comprehensive microarray analysis of the root transcriptome following NaCl exposure is required to further understand plant responses to abiotic stress and facilitate future, systems-based analyses of the underlying regulatory networks.
We used microarrays of 70-mer oligonucleotide probes representing 23,686 Arabidopsis genes to identify root transcripts that changed in relative abundance following 6 h, 24 h, or 48 h of hydroponic exposure to 150 mM NaCl. Enrichment analysis identified groups of structurally or functionally related genes whose members were statistically over-represented among up- or down-regulated transcripts. Our results are consistent with generally observed stress response themes, and highlight potentially important roles for underappreciated gene families, including: several groups of transporters (e.g. MATE, LeOPT1-like); signalling molecules (e.g. PERK kinases, MLO-like receptors), carbohydrate active enzymes (e.g. XTH18), transcription factors (e.g. members of ZIM, WRKY, NAC), and other proteins (e.g. 4CL-like, COMT-like, LOB-Class 1). We verified the NaCl-inducible expression of selected transcription factors and other genes by qRT-PCR.
Micorarray profiling of NaCl-treated Arabidopsis roots revealed dynamic changes in transcript abundance for at least 20% of the genome, including hundreds of transcription factors, kinases/phosphatases, hormone-related genes, and effectors of homeostasis, all of which highlight the complexity of this stress response. Our identification of these transcriptional responses, and groups of evolutionarily related genes with either similar or divergent transcriptional responses to stress, will facilitate mapping of regulatory networks and extend our ability to improve salt tolerance in plants.
PMCID: PMC1621065  PMID: 17038189

Results 1-5 (5)