Analysis of cellulose synthase genes from domesticated apple identifies collinear genes WDR53 and CesA8A: Partial co-expression, bicistronic mRNA, and alternative splicing of CESA8A
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SubjectMalus domestica; Cellulose synthase; Bicistronic mRNA; Zinc motif; Collinear genes; WD40 repeats
Cellulose synthase (CesA) genes constitute a complex multigene family with six major phylogenetic clades in angiosperms. The recently sequenced genome of domestic apple, Malus-domestica was mined for CesA genes, by blasting full-length cellulose synthase protein (CESA) sequences annotated in the apple genome against protein databases from the plant models Arabidopsis thaliana and Populus trichocarpa. Thirteen genes belonging to the six angiosperm CesA clades and coding for proteins with conserved residues typical of processive glycosyltransferases from family 2 were detected. Based on their phylogenetic relationship to Arabidopsis CESAs, as well as expression patterns, a nomenclature is proposed to facilitate further studies. Examination of their genomic organization revealed that MdCesA8-A is closely linked and co-oriented with WDR53, a gene coding for a WD40 repeat protein. The WDR53 and CesA8 genes display conserved collinearity in dicots and are partially co-expressed in the apple xylem. Interestingly, the presence of a bicistronic WDR53-CesA8A transcript was detected in phytoplasma-infected phloem tissues of apple. The bicistronic transcript contains a spliced intergenic sequence that is predicted to fold into hairpin structures typical of internal ribosome entry sites, suggesting its potential cap-independent translation. Surprisingly, the CesA8A cistron is alternatively spliced and lacks the zinc-binding domain. The possible roles of WDR53 and the alternatively spliced CESA8 variant during cellulose biosynthesis in M.-xdomestica are discussed. © 2012 The Authors.