COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

New insights into structural organization and gene duplication in a 1.75-Mb genomic region harboring the α-gliadin gene family in Aegilops tauschii, the source of wheat D genome

Naxin Huo, Lingli Dong, Shengli Zhang, Yi Wang, Tingting Zhu, Toni Mohr, Susan Altenbach, Zhiyong Liu, Jan Dvorak, Olin D Anderson, Ming-Cheng Luo, Daowen Wang, Yong Q Gu
Plant Journal 2017, 92 (4): 571-583
28857322
Among the wheat prolamins important for its end-use traits, α-gliadins are the most abundant, and are also a major cause of food-related allergies and intolerances. Previous studies of various wheat species estimated that between 25 and 150 α-gliadin genes reside in the Gli-2 locus regions. To better understand the evolution of this complex gene family, the DNA sequence of a 1.75-Mb genomic region spanning the Gli-2 locus was analyzed in the diploid grass, Aegilops tauschii, the ancestral source of D genome in hexaploid bread wheat. Comparison with orthologous regions from rice, sorghum, and Brachypodium revealed rapid and dynamic changes only occurring to the Ae. tauschii Gli-2 region, including insertions of high numbers of non-syntenic genes and a high rate of tandem gene duplications, the latter of which have given rise to 12 copies of α-gliadin genes clustered within a 550-kb region. Among them, five copies have undergone pseudogenization by various mutation events. Insights into the evolutionary relationship of the duplicated α-gliadin genes were obtained from their genomic organization, transcription patterns, transposable element insertions and phylogenetic analyses. An ancestral glutamate-like receptor (GLR) gene encoding putative amino acid sensor in all four grass species has duplicated only in Ae. tauschii and generated three more copies that are interspersed with the α-gliadin genes. Phylogenetic inference and different gene expression patterns support functional divergence of the Ae. tauschii GLR copies after duplication. Our results suggest that the duplicates of α-gliadin and GLR genes have likely taken different evolutionary paths; conservation for the former and neofunctionalization for the latter.

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