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Cloning, bioinformatics and the enzyme activity analyses of a phenylalanine ammonia-lyase gene involved in dragon’s blood biosynthesis in Dracaena cambodiana


Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) is the key enzyme of the phenylpropanoid pathway, playing an important role in plant development and defence. We cloned a partial cDNA of PAL gene, DcPAL1, from Dracaena cambodiana seedlings using RT-PCR with degenerate primers that were designed based on a multiple sequence alignment of known PAL genes from other plant species. DcPAL1 shows highly homologous to other known PAL genes registered in GenBank, being closest to that of Musa acuminata. DcPAL1 has a relatively high GC content and most of the GC is in the third codon position. It has 768 bp in size with a maximum open reading frame (ORF) of 765 bp, encoding a 255 amino acid-polypeptide. The deduced PAL protein is a stable protein, having classical PAL domains and consisting of three major hydrophobic domains. Analysis of effective number of codons (ENC) shows that DcPAL1 codons are used at equal frequency. Relatively higher usage frequency appears randomly in codons ended with any of the four bases; six codons have no usage bias. There are 45 codons showing distinct usage preference between DcPAL1 and E. coli, 20 between DcPAL1 and yeast. Therefore, the yeast system may be more suitable for the expression of DcPAL1. Upon the elicitation of Fusarium proliferatum, a potent elicitor of dragon’s blood, the PAL enzyme activity in the leaves and stems of D. cambodiana and other two Dracaena spp. significantly increased, accompanying with the formation of dragon’s blood, indicating the involvement of PAL in the biosynthesis of dragon’s blood, a precious traditional medicine.

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This work was supported by the Scientific and Technological Innovation and Development Program of Yunnan Province (2010AE005), and China National Natural Science Foundation (Project 30760300).

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Correspondence to Changhe Zhang.

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Xing-Hong Wang and Min Gong contributed equally to this work.

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Wang, XH., Gong, M., Tang, L. et al. Cloning, bioinformatics and the enzyme activity analyses of a phenylalanine ammonia-lyase gene involved in dragon’s blood biosynthesis in Dracaena cambodiana . Mol Biol Rep 40, 97–107 (2013).

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  • Dracaena cambodiana
  • Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL)
  • Bioinformatics
  • Codon usage bias
  • Dragon’s blood
  • Enzyme activity