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Genome-wide identification of rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg.) aquaporin genes and their response to ethephon stimulation in the laticifer, a rubber-producing tissue.

BMC genomics (2015-11-27)
Zhi Zou, Jun Gong, Feng An, Guishui Xie, Jikun Wang, Yeyong Mo, Lifu Yang
ABSTRACT

Natural rubber, an important industrial raw material, is specifically synthesized in laticifers located inside the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis Muell. Arg.) trunk. Due to the absence of plasmodesmata, the laticifer water balance is mediated by aquaporins (AQPs). However, to date, the characterization of H. brasiliensis AQPs (HbAQPs) is still in its infancy. In this study, 51 full-length AQP genes were identified from the rubber tree genome. The phylogenetic analysis assigned these AQPs to five subfamilies, including 15 plasma membrane intrinsic proteins (PIPs), 17 tonoplast intrinsic proteins (TIPs), 9 NOD26-like intrinsic proteins (NIPs), 4 small basic intrinsic proteins (SIPs) and 6 X intrinsic proteins (XIPs). Functional prediction based on the analysis of the aromatic/arginine (ar/R) selectivity filter, Froger's positions and specificity-determining positions (SDPs) showed a remarkable difference in substrate specificity among subfamilies. Homology analysis supported the expression of 44 HbAQP genes in at least one of the examined tissues. Furthermore, deep sequencing of the laticifer transcriptome in the form of latex revealed a key role of several PIP subfamily members in the laticifer water balance, and qRT-PCR analysis showed diverse expression patterns of laticifer-expressed HbAQP genes upon ethephon treatment, a widely-used practice for the stimulation of latex yield. This study provides an important genetic resource of HbAQP genes, which will be useful to improve the water use efficiency and latex yield of Hevea.

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