Characterization of retrotransposon sequences expressed in inflorescences of apomictic and sexual Paspalum notatum plants
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Apomixis, an asexual mode of reproduction through seeds, holds much promise for agricultural advances. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this trait are still poorly understood. We previously isolated several transcripts representing novel sequences differentially expressed in reproductive tissues of sexual and apomictic plants. Here, we report the characterization of two of these unknown RNA transcripts (experimental codes N17 and N22). Since original fragments showed no significant homologies to sequences at databases, preliminary genomic PCR experiments were carried out to discard possible contaminations. RACE extension on flanking regions provided longer sequences for the candidates and additional related transcripts, which revealed similarity to LTR retrotransposons carrying short transduplicated segments of protein-coding genes. Interestingly, some transduplicated segments corresponded to genes previously associated with apomictic development. Gene copy number estimations revealed a moderate representation of the elements in the genome, with significantly increased numbers in a sexual genotype with respect to an apomictic one. Genetic mapping of N17 showed that a copy of this particular element was located onto Paspalum notatum linkage group F3c, at a central non-recombinant region resembling a centromere. Expression analysis showed an increased activity of N17 and N22 sense strands in ovules of the sexual genotypes. A retrotransposon-specific differential display analysis aimed at detecting related sequences allowed the identification of a complex family, with the majority of its members represented in the sexual genotype. Our results suggest that these elements could be participating in regulatory pathways related to apomixis and sexuality.
KeywordsApomixis Apospory Asexual reproduction Gene expression regulation Retrotransposon
This work was supported by: Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT), Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, Argentina, PICT 2007 00476 and PME-2006-03083; Centro Brasil-Argentina de Biotecnologia, Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CBAB-MCT-CNPq), Brasil, projeto 400753/2004-9; Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina, PIP 11220090100613; Universidad Nacional de Rosario, proyecto 19G/253 and ProSul (Programa Sudamericano de Apoyo a las Actividades de Cooperación en Ciencia y Tecnologia).
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