Transcriptome analysis of Catharanthus roseus for gene discovery and expression profiling

Mohit Verma, Rajesh Ghangal, Raghvendra Sharma, Alok K Sinha, Mukesh Jain
PloS One 2014, 9 (7): e103583
The medicinal plant, Catharanthus roseus, accumulates wide range of terpenoid indole alkaloids, which are well documented therapeutic agents. In this study, deep transcriptome sequencing of C. roseus was carried out to identify the pathways and enzymes (genes) involved in biosynthesis of these compounds. About 343 million reads were generated from different tissues (leaf, flower and root) of C. roseus using Illumina platform. Optimization of de novo assembly involving a two-step process resulted in a total of 59,220 unique transcripts with an average length of 1284 bp. Comprehensive functional annotation and gene ontology (GO) analysis revealed the representation of many genes involved in different biological processes and molecular functions. In total, 65% of C. roseus transcripts showed homology with sequences available in various public repositories, while remaining 35% unigenes may be considered as C. roseus specific. In silico analysis revealed presence of 11,620 genic simple sequence repeats (excluding mono-nucleotide repeats) and 1820 transcription factor encoding genes in C. roseus transcriptome. Expression analysis showed roots and leaves to be actively participating in bisindole alkaloid production with clear indication that enzymes involved in pathway of vindoline and vinblastine biosynthesis are restricted to aerial tissues. Such large-scale transcriptome study provides a rich source for understanding plant-specialized metabolism, and is expected to promote research towards production of plant-derived pharmaceuticals.

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