Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 271, Issue 5, pp 511–521 | Cite as

Organisation and structural evolution of the rice glutathione S-transferase gene family

  • N. Soranzo
  • M. Sari Gorla
  • L. Mizzi
  • G. De Toma
  • C. Frova
Original Paper


Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) comprise a large family of key defence enzymes against xenobiotic toxicity. Here we describe the comprehensive characterisation of this important multigene family in the model monocot species rice [Oryza sativa (L.)]. Furthermore, we investigate the molecular evolution of the family based on the analysis of (1) the patterns of within-genome duplication, and (2) the phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary divergence among rice, Arabidopsis, maize and soybean GSTs. By in-silico screening of the EST and genome divisions of the Genbank/EMBL/DDBJ database we have isolated 59 putative genes and two pseudogenes, making this the largest plant GST family characterised to date. Of these, 38 (62%) are represented by genomic and EST sequences and 23 (38%) are known only from their genomic sequences. A preliminary survey of EST collections shows a large degree of variability in gene expression between different tissues and environmental conditions, with a small number of genes (13) accounting for 80% of all ESTs. Rice GSTs are organised in four main phylogenetic classes, with 91% of all rice genes belonging to the two plant-specific classes Tau (40 genes) and Phi (16 genes). Pairwise identity scores range between 17 and 98% for proteins of the same class, and 7 and 21% for interclass comparisons. Rapid evolution by gene duplication is suggested by the discovery of two large clusters of 7 and 23 closely related genes on chromosomes 1 and 10, respectively. A comparison of the complete GST families in two monocot and two dicot species suggests a monophyletic origin for all Theta and Zeta GSTs, and no more than three common ancestors for all Phi and Tau genes.


Glutathione S-transferases Gene families Genomic organization Evolution 



We wish to thank Roberta Rizzardi and Ester Baldrighi who participated to the initial stages of this work, and two anonymous referees for useful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. The cDNA clones were received from the MAFF DNA Bank (Tsukuba, Japan). This work was supported by grants from the Italian Ministry of Education and Research (MIUR PRIN1999, MIUR PRIN2002).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Soranzo
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Sari Gorla
    • 1
  • L. Mizzi
    • 1
  • G. De Toma
    • 1
  • C. Frova
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomolecular Sciences and BiotechnologyUniversity of MilanMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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