Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 283, Issue 4, pp 381–396 | Cite as

RNase T2 genes from rice and the evolution of secretory ribonucleases in plants

  • Gustavo C. MacIntosh
  • Melissa S. Hillwig
  • Alexander Meyer
  • Lex Flagel
Original Paper


The plant RNase T2 family is divided into two different subfamilies. S-RNases are involved in rejection of self-pollen during the establishment of self-incompatibility in three plant families. S-like RNases, on the other hand, are not involved in self-incompatibility, and although gene expression studies point to a role in plant defense and phosphate recycling, their biological roles are less well understood. Although S-RNases have been subjects of many phylogenetic studies, few have included an extensive analysis of S-like RNases, and genome-wide analyses to determine the number of S-like RNases in fully sequenced plant genomes are missing. We characterized the eight RNase T2 genes present in the Oryza sativa genome; and we also identified the full complement of RNase T2 genes present in other fully sequenced plant genomes. Phylogenetics and gene expression analyses identified two classes among the S-like RNase subfamily. Class I genes show tissue specificity and stress regulation. Inactivation of RNase activity has occurred repeatedly throughout evolution. On the other hand, Class II seems to have conserved more ancestral characteristics; and, unlike other S-like RNases, genes in this class are conserved in all plant species analyzed and most are constitutively expressed. Our results suggest that gene duplication resulted in high diversification of Class I genes. Many of these genes are differentially expressed in response to stress, and we propose that protein characteristics, such as the increase in basic residues can have a defense role independent of RNase activity. On the other hand, constitutive expression and phylogenetic conservation suggest that Class II S-like RNases may have a housekeeping role.


S-like RNases Evolution Rice Housekeeping Inactive RNase 



We thank Dr. Bing Yang for providing the rice RNA and sharing unpublished microarray results, Dr. Huixia Shou for providing Pi starvation microarray data, and Matthew Studham for mining the soybean microarray data. This work was supported in part by Grants from Iowa State University and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to GCM.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo C. MacIntosh
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Melissa S. Hillwig
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexander Meyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lex Flagel
    • 4
  1. 1.Interdepartmental Genetics ProgramIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular BiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  3. 3.Plant Sciences InstituteIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  4. 4.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal BiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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