Expression analysis of β-glucosidase genes that regulate abscisic acid homeostasis during watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) development and under stress conditions

Qian Li, Ping Li, Liang Sun, Yanping Wang, Kai Ji, Yufei Sun, Shengjie Dai, Pei Chen, Chaorui Duan, Ping Leng
Journal of Plant Physiology 2012 January 1, 169 (1): 78-85
The aim of this study was to obtain new insights into the mechanisms that regulate endogenous abscisic acid (ABA) levels by β-glucosidase genes during the development of watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) and under drought stress conditions. In total, five cDNAs from watermelons were cloned by using reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). They included three cDNAs (ClBG1, ClBG2 and ClBG3) homologous to those that encode β-glucosidase l that hydrolyzes the ABA glucose ester (ABA-GE) to release active ABA, ClNCED4, which encodes 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase (NCED), a key enzyme in ABA biosynthesis, and ClCYP707A1, encoding ABA 8'-hydroxylase. A BLAST homology search revealed that the sequences of cDNAs and the deduced amino acids of these genes showed a high degree of homology to comparable molecules of other plant species. During fruit development and ripening, the expressions of ClBG1, ClNCED4 and ClCYP707A1 were relatively low at an early stage, increased rapidly along with fruit ripening, and reached the highest levels at 27 days after full bloom (DAFB) at the harvest stage. This trend was consistent with the accumulation of ABA. The ClBG2 gene on the other hand was highly expressed at 5 DAFB, and then decreased gradually with fruit development. Unlike ClBG1 and ClBG2, the expression of ClBG3 was low at an early stage; its expression peak occurred at 15 DAFB and then declined to the lowest point. When watermelon seedlings were subjected to drought stress, expressions of ClBG1 and ClCYP707A1 were significantly down-regulated, while expressions of ClBG2 and ClNCED4 were up-regulated in the roots, stems and leaves. The expression of ClBG3 was down-regulated in root tissue, but was up-regulated in stems and leaves. In conclusion, endogenous ABA content was modulated by a dynamic balance between biosynthesis and catabolism regulated by ClNCED4, ClCYP707A1 and ClBGs during development and under drought stress condition. It seems likely that β-glucosidase genes are important for this regulation process.

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