Cotton BCP genes encoding putative blue copper-binding proteins are functionally expressed in fiber development and involved in response to high-salinity and heavy metal stresses

Xiang-Mei Ruan, Fang Luo, Deng-Di Li, Jie Zhang, Zhi-Hao Liu, Wen-Liang Xu, Geng-Qing Huang, Xue-Bao Li
Physiologia Plantarum 2011, 141 (1): 71-83
Copper is vitally required for plants at low concentrations but extremely toxic for plants at elevated concentrations. Plants have evolved a series of mechanisms to prevent the consequences of the excess or deficit of copper. These mechanisms require copper-interacting proteins involved in copper trafficking. Blue copper-binding proteins (BCPs) are a class of copper proteins containing one blue copper-binding domain binding a single type I copper. To investigate the role of BCPs in plant development and in response to stresses, we isolated nine cDNAs encoding the putative blue copper-binding proteins (GhBCPs) from cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). Meanwhile, four corresponding genes (including GhBCP1-GhBCP4), which contain a single intron inserted in their conserved position, were isolated from cotton genome. Quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis indicated that the nine GhBCP genes are differentially expressed in cotton tissues. Among them, GhBCP1 and GhBCP4 were predominantly expressed in fibers, while the transcripts of GhBCP2 and GhBCP3 were accumulated at relatively high levels in fibers. These four genes were strongly expressed in early fiber elongation, but dramatically declined with further fiber development. In addition, these GhBCP genes were upregulated in fibers by Cu(2+) , Zn(2+) , high-salinity and drought stresses, but downregulated in fibers by Al(3+) treatment. Overexpression of GhBCP1 and GhBCP4 in yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) significantly increased the cell growth rate under Cu(2+) , Zn(2+) and high-salinity stresses. These results suggested that these GhBCPs may participate in the regulation of fiber development and in response to high-salinity and heavy metal stresses in cotton.

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