Heterologous expression of a Nelumbo nucifera phytochelatin synthase gene enhances cadmium tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana

Zhaolei Liu, Chunsun Gu, Fadi Chen, Dongyin Yang, Kunwei Wu, Sumei Chen, Jiafu Jiang, Zhen Zhang
Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology 2012, 166 (3): 722-34
Phytochelatin synthase (PCS) is a key enzyme involved in the synthesis of phytochelatins, which are thought to play important roles in heavy metal detoxification. The sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), one of the most popular ornamental species, has been shown to be a potential phytoremediator of heavy metal polluted water. However, the phytochelatin synthase gene in N. nucifera has not been identified yet. Here, we report the isolation and function characterization of a N. nucifera homologue of phytochelatin synthase. The sequence obtained shares a high degree of similarity with PCSs from other plant species and was named as Nelumbo nucifera phytochelatin synthase1 (NnPCS1). By using quantitative RT-PCR, we found that the expression of NnPCS1 in leaves of N. nucifera was dramatically increased in response to Cadmium (Cd) treatment. We further showed that, when exposed to Cd stress, Arabidopsis transgenic plants heterologous expressing NnPCS1 accumulated more Cd when compared with wild type. These results suggest that NnPCS1 involved in the response of N. nucifera to Cd stress and may represent a useful target gene for the phytoremediation of Cd-polluted water.

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