Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) plays a crucial role in browning reactions in fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, as well as products made from cereal grains. Common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) has a large genome, representing an interesting system to advance our understanding of plant PPO gene expression, regulation and function. In the present study, we characterized the expression of Ppo-A1, a major PPO gene located on wheat chromosome 2A, using DNA sequencing, semi-quantitative RT-PCR, PPO activity assays and whole-grain staining methods during grain development. The results indicated that the expression of the Ppo-A1b allele was regulated by alternative splicing of pre-mRNAs, resulting from a 191-bp insertion in intron 1 and one C/G SNP in exon 2. Eight mRNA isoforms were identified in developing grains based on alignments between cDNA and genomic DNA sequences. Only the constitutively spliced isoform b encodes a putative full-length PPO protein based on its coding sequence whereas the other seven spliced isoforms, a, c, d, e, f, g and h, have premature termination codons resulting in potential nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. The differences in expression of Ppo-A1a and Ppo-A1b were confirmed by PPO activity assays and whole grain staining, providing direct evidence for the influence of alternative splicing in the coding region of Ppo-A1 on polyphenol oxidase activity in common wheat grains.
Alternative splicing Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay Premature termination codon PPO gene
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The authors are grateful to the critical review of this manuscript by Prof. R. A. McIntosh, Plant Breeding Institute, University of Sydney. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (30871522 and 30830072), National Basic Research Program (2009CB118300), National 863 Program (2006AA10Z1A7 and 2006AA100102) and International Collaboration Project (2006-G2) from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.
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