Comparative proteomics of Thellungiella halophila leaves from plants subjected to salinity reveals the importance of chloroplastic starch and soluble sugars in halophyte salt tolerance

Xuchu Wang, Lili Chang, Baichen Wang, Dan Wang, Pinghua Li, Limin Wang, Xiaoping Yi, Qixing Huang, Ming Peng, Anping Guo
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics: MCP 2013, 12 (8): 2174-95
Thellungiella halophila, a close relative of Arabidopsis, is a model halophyte used to study plant salt tolerance. The proteomic/physiological/transcriptomic analyses of Thellungiella plant leaves subjected to different salinity levels, reported herein, indicate an extraordinary ability of Thellungiella to adapt to large concentrations of exogenous saline by compartmentalizing Na(+) into cell vacuoles and accumulating proline and soluble sugars as organic osmolytes. Salinity stress stimulated the accumulation of starch in chloroplasts, which resulted in a greatly increased content of starch and total sugars in leaves. Comparative proteomics of Thellungiella leaves identified 209 salt-responsive proteins. Among these, the sequences of 108 proteins were strongly homologous to Arabidopsis protein sequences, and 30 had previously been identified as Thellungiella proteins. Functional classification of these proteins into 16 categories indicated that the majority are involved in carbohydrate metabolism, followed by those involved in energy production and conversion, and then those involved in the transport of inorganic ions. Pathway analysis revealed that most of the proteins are involved in starch and sucrose metabolism, carbon fixation, photosynthesis, and glycolysis. Of these processes, the most affected were starch and sucrose metabolism, which might be pivotal for salt tolerance. The gene expression patterns of the 209 salt-responsive proteins revealed through hierarchical clustering of microarray data and the expression patterns of 29 Thellungiella genes evaluated via quantitative RT-PCR were similar to those deduced via proteomic analysis, which underscored the possibility that starch and sucrose metabolism might play pivotal roles in determining the salt tolerance ability of Thellungiella. Our observations enabled us to propose a schematic representation of the systematic salt-tolerance phenotype in Thellungiella and suggested that the increased accumulation of starch, soluble sugars, and proline, as well as subcellular compartmentalization of sodium, might collectively denote important mechanisms for halophyte salt tolerance.

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