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The grapevine aspartic protease gene family: characterization and expression modulation in response to Plasmopara viticola


Main conclusion

Grapevine aspartic proteases gene family is characterized and five VviAPs appear to be involved in grapevine defense against downy mildew.


Grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) is one of the most important crops worldwide. However, it is highly susceptible to the downy mildew disease caused by Plasmopara viticola (Berk. & Curt.) Berl. & De Toni. To minimize the use of fungicides used to control P. viticola, it is essential to gain a deeper comprehension on this pathosystem and proteases have gained particular interest in the past decade. Proteases were shown to actively participate in plant-pathogen interactions, not only in the processes that lead to plant cell death, stress responses and protein processing/degradation but also as components of the recognition and signalling pathways. The aim of this study was to identify and characterize the aspartic proteases (APs) involvement in grapevine defense against P. viticola. A genome-wide search and bioinformatics characterization of the V. vinifera AP gene family was conducted and a total of 81 APs proteins, coded by 65 genes, were found. VviAPs proteins can be divided into three categories, similar to those previously described for other plants. Twelve APs coding genes were selected, and expression analysis was conducted at several time-points after inoculation in both compatible and incompatible interactions. Five grapevine APs may be involved in grapevine tolerance against P. viticola. Our findings provide an overall understanding of the VviAPs gene family and establish better groundwork to further describe the roles of VviAPs in defense against P. viticola.

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Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.


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The present work was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT/MCTES/PIDDAC, Portugal), BioISI (UIDP/04046/2020), PTDC/BIA-BQM/28539/2017 and IF/00819/2015. The authors would like to acknowledge Joana Figueiredo and Gonçalo Laureano for their helpful discussions.

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Correspondence to Rita B. Santos.

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Figueiredo, L., Santos, R.B. & Figueiredo, A. The grapevine aspartic protease gene family: characterization and expression modulation in response to Plasmopara viticola. J Plant Res 135, 501–515 (2022).

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  • Aspartic proteases
  • Defense
  • Downy mildew
  • Plant-pathogen interaction
  • Vitis vinifera