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1.  Atypical DNA methylation of genes encoding cysteine-rich peptides in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:51.
In plants, transposons and non-protein-coding repeats are epigenetically silenced by CG and non-CG methylation. This pattern of methylation is mediated in part by small RNAs and two specialized RNA polymerases, termed Pol IV and Pol V, in a process called RNA-directed DNA methylation. By contrast, many protein-coding genes transcribed by Pol II contain in their gene bodies exclusively CG methylation that is independent of small RNAs and Pol IV/Pol V activities. It is unclear how the different methylation machineries distinguish between transposons and genes. Here we report on a group of atypical genes that display in their coding region a transposon-like methylation pattern, which is associated with gene silencing in sporophytic tissues.
We performed a methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism analysis to search for targets of RNA-directed DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana and identified several members of a gene family encoding cysteine-rich peptides (CRPs). In leaves, the CRP genes are silent and their coding regions contain dense, transposon-like methylation in CG, CHG and CHH contexts, which depends partly on the Pol IV/Pol V pathway and small RNAs. Methylation in the coding region is reduced, however, in the synergid cells of the female gametophyte, where the CRP genes are specifically expressed. Further demonstrating that expressed CRP genes lack gene body methylation, a CRP4-GFP fusion gene under the control of the constitutive 35 S promoter remains unmethylated in leaves and is transcribed to produce a translatable mRNA. By contrast, a CRP4-GFP fusion gene under the control of a CRP4 promoter fragment acquires CG and non-CG methylation in the CRP coding region in leaves similar to the silent endogenous CRP4 gene.
Unlike CG methylation in gene bodies, which does not dramatically affect Pol II transcription, combined CG and non-CG methylation in CRP coding regions is likely to contribute to gene silencing in leaves because loss of this methylation in synergid cells is associated with CRP gene expression. We discuss this unusual methylation pattern and its alteration in synergid cells as well as the possible retrogene origin and evolutionary significance of CRP genes that are methylated like transposons.
PMCID: PMC3422182  PMID: 22512782
2.  Identification and analysis of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) transcriptomes by massively parallel pyrosequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:135.
Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is the most important food legume in the world. Although this crop is very important to both the developed and developing world as a means of dietary protein supply, resources available in common bean are limited. Global transcriptome analysis is important to better understand gene expression, genetic variation, and gene structure annotation in addition to other important features. However, the number and description of common bean sequences are very limited, which greatly inhibits genome and transcriptome research. Here we used 454 pyrosequencing to obtain a substantial transcriptome dataset for common bean.
We obtained 1,692,972 reads with an average read length of 207 nucleotides (nt). These reads were assembled into 59,295 unigenes including 39,572 contigs and 19,723 singletons, in addition to 35,328 singletons less than 100 bp. Comparing the unigenes to common bean ESTs deposited in GenBank, we found that 53.40% or 31,664 of these unigenes had no matches to this dataset and can be considered as new common bean transcripts. Functional annotation of the unigenes carried out by Gene Ontology assignments from hits to Arabidopsis and soybean indicated coverage of a broad range of GO categories. The common bean unigenes were also compared to the bean bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) end sequences, and a total of 21% of the unigenes (12,724) including 9,199 contigs and 3,256 singletons match to the 8,823 BAC-end sequences. In addition, a large number of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) and transcription factors were also identified in this study.
This work provides the first large scale identification of the common bean transcriptome derived by 454 pyrosequencing. This research has resulted in a 150% increase in the number of Phaseolus vulgaris ESTs. The dataset obtained through this analysis will provide a platform for functional genomics in common bean and related legumes and will aid in the development of molecular markers that can be used for tagging genes of interest. Additionally, these sequences will provide a means for better annotation of the on-going common bean whole genome sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3209450  PMID: 21985325
3.  Comparative expression profiling in grape (Vitis vinifera) berries derived from frequency analysis of ESTs and MPSS signatures 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:53.
Vitis vinifera (V. vinifera) is the primary grape species cultivated for wine production, with an industry valued annually in the billions of dollars worldwide. In order to sustain and increase grape production, it is necessary to understand the genetic makeup of grape species. Here we performed mRNA profiling using Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS) and combined it with available Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) data. These tag-based technologies, which do not require a priori knowledge of genomic sequence, are well-suited for transcriptional profiling. The sequence depth of MPSS allowed us to capture and quantify almost all the transcripts at a specific stage in the development of the grape berry.
The number and relative abundance of transcripts from stage II grape berries was defined using Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS). A total of 2,635,293 17-base and 2,259,286 20-base signatures were obtained, representing at least 30,737 and 26,878 distinct sequences. The average normalized abundance per signature was ~49 TPM (Transcripts Per Million). Comparisons of the MPSS signatures with available Vitis species' ESTs and a unigene set demonstrated that 6,430 distinct contigs and 2,190 singletons have a perfect match to at least one MPSS signature. Among the matched sequences, ESTs were identified from tissues other than berries or from berries at different developmental stages. Additional MPSS signatures not matching to known grape ESTs can extend our knowledge of the V. vinifera transcriptome, particularly when these data are used to assist in annotation of whole genome sequences from Vitis vinifera.
The MPSS data presented here not only achieved a higher level of saturation than previous EST based analyses, but in doing so, expand the known set of transcripts of grape berries during the unique stage in development that immediately precedes the onset of ripening. The MPSS dataset also revealed evidence of antisense expression not previously reported in grapes but comparable to that reported in other plant species. Finally, we developed a novel web-based, public resource for utilization of the grape MPSS data [1].
PMCID: PMC2423195  PMID: 18474095
4.  A spatial dissection of the Arabidopsis floral transcriptome by MPSS 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:43.
We have further characterized floral organ-localized gene expression in the inflorescence of Arabidopsis thaliana by comparison of massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS) data. Six libraries of RNA sequence tags from immature inflorescence tissues were constructed and matched to their respective loci in the annotated Arabidopsis genome. These signature libraries survey the floral transcriptome of wild-type tissue as well as the floral homeotic mutants, apetala1, apetala3, agamous, a superman/apetala1 double mutant, and differentiated ovules dissected from the gynoecia of wild-type inflorescences. Comparing and contrasting these MPSS floral expression libraries enabled demarcation of transcripts enriched in the petals, stamens, stigma-style, gynoecia, and those with predicted enrichment within the sepal/sepal-petals, petal-stamens, or gynoecia-stamens.
By comparison of expression libraries, a total of 572 genes were found to have organ-enriched expression within the inflorescence. The bulk of characterized organ-enriched transcript diversity was noted in the gynoecia and stamens, whereas fewer genes demonstrated sepal or petal-localized expression. Validation of the computational analyses was performed by comparison with previously published expression data, in situ hybridizations, promoter-reporter fusions, and reverse transcription PCR. A number of well-characterized genes were accurately delineated within our system of transcript filtration. Moreover, empirical validations confirm MPSS predictions for several genes with previously uncharacterized expression patterns.
This extensive MPSS analysis confirms and supplements prior microarray floral expression studies and illustrates the utility of sequence survey-based expression analysis in functional genomics. Spatial floral expression data accrued by MPSS and similar methods will be advantageous in the elucidation of more comprehensive genetic regulatory networks governing floral development.
PMCID: PMC2375892  PMID: 18426585
5.  Characterization of paralogous protein families in rice 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:18.
High gene numbers in plant genomes reflect polyploidy and major gene duplication events. Oryza sativa, cultivated rice, is a diploid monocotyledonous species with a ~390 Mb genome that has undergone segmental duplication of a substantial portion of its genome. This, coupled with other genetic events such as tandem duplications, has resulted in a substantial number of its genes, and resulting proteins, occurring in paralogous families.
Using a computational pipeline that utilizes Pfam and novel protein domains, we characterized paralogous families in rice and compared these with paralogous families in the model dicotyledonous diploid species, Arabidopsis thaliana. Arabidopsis, which has undergone genome duplication as well, has a substantially smaller genome (~120 Mb) and gene complement compared to rice. Overall, 53% and 68% of the non-transposable element-related rice and Arabidopsis proteins could be classified into paralogous protein families, respectively. Singleton and paralogous family genes differed substantially in their likelihood of encoding a protein of known or putative function; 26% and 66% of singleton genes compared to 73% and 96% of the paralogous family genes encode a known or putative protein in rice and Arabidopsis, respectively. Furthermore, a major skew in the distribution of specific gene function was observed; a total of 17 Gene Ontology categories in both rice and Arabidopsis were statistically significant in their differential distribution between paralogous family and singleton proteins. In contrast to mammalian organisms, we found that duplicated genes in rice and Arabidopsis tend to have more alternative splice forms. Using data from Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing, we show that a significant portion of the duplicated genes in rice show divergent expression although a correlation between sequence divergence and correlation of expression could be seen in very young genes.
Collectively, these data suggest that while co-regulation and conserved function are present in some paralogous protein family members, evolutionary pressures have resulted in functional divergence with differential expression patterns.
PMCID: PMC2275729  PMID: 18284697
6.  Global expression analysis of nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat-encoding and related genes in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:56.
Nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat (NBS-LRR)-encoding genes comprise the largest class of plant disease resistance genes. The 149 NBS-LRR-encoding genes and the 58 related genes that do not encode LRRs represent approximately 0.8% of all ORFs so far annotated in Arabidopsis ecotype Col-0. Despite their prevalence in the genome and functional importance, there was little information regarding expression of these genes.
We analyzed the expression patterns of ~170 NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes in Arabidopsis Col-0 using multiple analytical approaches: expressed sequenced tag (EST) representation, massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS), microarray analysis, rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) PCR, and gene trap lines. Most of these genes were expressed at low levels with a variety of tissue specificities. Expression was detected by at least one approach for all but 10 of these genes. The expression of some but not the majority of NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes was affected by salicylic acid (SA) treatment; the response to SA varied among different accessions. An analysis of previously published microarray data indicated that ten NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes exhibited increased expression in wild-type Landsberg erecta (Ler) after flagellin treatment. Several of these ten genes also showed altered expression after SA treatment, consistent with the regulation of R gene expression during defense responses and overlap between the basal defense response and salicylic acid signaling pathways. Enhancer trap analysis indicated that neither jasmonic acid nor benzothiadiazole (BTH), a salicylic acid analog, induced detectable expression of the five NBS-LRR-encoding genes and one TIR-NBS-encoding gene tested; however, BTH did induce detectable expression of the other TIR-NBS-encoding gene analyzed. Evidence for alternative mRNA polyadenylation sites was observed for many of the tested genes. Evidence for alternative splicing was found for at least 12 genes, 11 of which encode TIR-NBS-LRR proteins. There was no obvious correlation between expression pattern, phylogenetic relationship or genomic location of the NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes studied.
Transcripts of many NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes were defined. Most were present at low levels and exhibited tissue-specific expression patterns. Expression data are consistent with most Arabidopsis NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes functioning in plant defense responses but do not preclude other biological roles.
PMCID: PMC2175511  PMID: 17956627

Results 1-6 (6)