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Characterization of a defensin gene expressed in oil palm inflorescences : Induction during tissue culture and possible association with epigenetic somaclonal variation events

Tregear J., Morcillo F., Richaud F., Berger A., Singh R., Cheah S.C., Hartmann C., Rival A., Duval Y.. 2002. Journal of Experimental Botany, 53 (373) : p. 1387-1396.

DOI: 10.1093/jexbot/53.373.1387

From differential display studies performed on oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) tissue cultures bearing or lacking an epigenetic homeotic flowering abnormality, known as mantled, EGAD1, a gene coding for a putative plant defensin, has been identified and characterized. In whole plants, transcripts of the EGAD1 gene were detected only in inflorescences. The closest characterized relative of the oil palm EGAD1 gene is the Petunia PPT gene, which is expressed principally in the pistil of the flower. The 77 amino acid polypeptide encoded by the EGAD1 gene displays strong similarities with a number of plant defensin proteins, which are thought to play a protective role and which have been shown in some cases to possess antifungal properties. Oil palm tissue cultures exhibit a generally strong induction of accumulation of EGAD1 transcripts, which were detected to differing extents at all stages of the tissue culture regeneration process. The 5' flanking region of the EGAD1 gene was found to contain two different types of potential cis-acting DNA element previously identified in the promoters of plant defence-related genes, which may explain the observed expression in tissue cultures. At the callus stage of the in vitro regeneration procedure, a differential accumulation of EGAD1 transcripts was observed which correlated with the presence or absence of the mantled flowering abnormality. EGAD1 gene expression may therefore be a marker of epigenetic somaclonal variation events.

Mots-clés : elaeis guineensis; variation somaclonale; inflorescence; trouble génétique; expression des gènes; mécanisme de défense

Article (a-revue à facteur d'impact)

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