, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 301-313
Date: 14 Apr 2010

Cloning and characterisation of two CTR1-like genes in Cucurbita pepo: regulation of their expression during male and female flower development

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Abstract

Ethylene is an essential regulator of flower development in Cucurbita pepo, controlling the sexual expression, and the differentiation and maturation of floral organs. To study the action mechanism of ethylene during the male and female flower development, we have identified two CTR1 homologues from C. pepo, CpCTR1 and CpCTR2, and analysed their expressions during female and male flower development and in response to external treatments with ethylene. CpCTR1 and CpCTR2 share a high homology with plant CTR1-like kinases, but differ from other related kinases such as the Arabidopsis EDR1 and the tomato LeCTR2. The C-terminal ends of both CpCTR1 and CpCTR2 have all the conserved motifs of Ser/Thr kinase domains, including the ATP-binding signature and the protein kinase active site consensus sequence, which suggests that CpCTR1 and CpCTR2 could have the same function as CTR1 in ethylene signalling. The transcripts of both genes were detected in different organs of the plant, including roots, leaves and shoots, but were mostly accumulated in mature flowers. During the development of male and female flowers, CpCTR1 and CpCTR2 expressions were concomitant with ethylene production, which indicates that both genes could be upregulated by ethylene, at least in flowers. Moreover, external treatments with ethylene, although did not alter the expression of these two genes in seedlings and leaves, were able to upregulate their expression in flowers. In the earlier stages of flower development, when ethylene production is very low, the expression of CpCTR1 and CpCTR2 is higher in male floral organs, which agrees with the role of these genes as negative regulators of ethylene signalling, and explain the lower ethylene sensitivity of male flowers in comparison with female flowers. The function of the upregulation of these two genes in later stages of female flower development, when the production of ethylene is also increased, is discussed.

Communicated by Scott Russell.