, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 297-306

Structural characterization of genes corresponding to cotton fiber mRNA, E6: reduced E6 protein in transgenic plants by antisense gene

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Abstract

Two genes, each corresponding to fiber mRNA E6, were isolated from cotton cultivars Coker 312 (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and Sea Island (G. barbadense L.). E6 is one of the predominant fiber-specific mRNAs present during early fiber development. The distinguishing feature of the nucleotide-derived E6 protein is the presence of a motif where a dimer, Ser-Gly, is repeated several times. Two of the Sea Island genes contained a pentameric motif, Ser-Gly, while one of the Coker genes had one and the other had four motifs each. cDNA clones containing one or five Ser-Gly motifs were also identified. Thus, it appears that the strict conservation of this motif may not be critical to E6 protein function. Sequence characterizations of the genes and cDNAs showed that multiple members of the E6 family are transcribed in fiber and may result in proteins 238 to 246 amino acids long. The 3′ ends of the genes and cDNAs showed considerable heterology among them. Transgenic plants containing antisense genes were generated to decipher E6 function. Transgenic cotton with reduced E6 protein levels in the range of 60 to 98% were identified. However, no discernible phenotypic changes in fiber development or properties were apparent. This result leads to the conclusion that E6 is not critical to the normal development or structural integrity of cotton fibers.