Poplar defense against insects: genome analysis, full-length cDNA cloning, and transcriptome and protein analysis of the poplar Kunitz-type protease inhibitor family

Authors

  • Ryan N. Philippe,

    1. Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
    2. Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work as first authors.

  • Steven G. Ralph,

    1. Department of Biology, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202-9019, USA
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work as first authors.

  • Carsten Külheim,

    1. Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
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  • Sharon I. Jancsik,

    1. Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
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  • Jörg Bohlmann

    1. Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
    2. Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
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Author for correspondence:
Jörg Bohlmann
Tel: +1 604 8220282
Email: bohlmann@msl.ubc.ca

Summary

  • Kunitz protease inhibitors (KPIs) feature prominently in poplar defense responses against insects. The increasing availability of genomics resources enabled a comprehensive analysis of the poplar (p)KPI family.
  • Using genome analysis, expressed sequence tag (EST) mining and full-length (FL)cDNA cloning we established an inventory and phylogeny of pKPIs. Microarray and real-time PCR analyses were used to profile pKPI gene expression following real or simulated insect attack. Proteomics of insect midgut content was used to monitor stability of pKPI protein.
  • We identified 31 pKPIs in the genome and validated gene models by EST mining and cloning of 41 unique FLcDNAs. Genome organization of the pKPI family, with six poplar-specific subfamilies, suggests that tandem duplications have played a major role in its expansion. pKPIs are expressed throughout the plant and many are strongly induced by insect attack, although insect-specific signals seem initially to suppress the tree pKPI response. We found substantial peptide coverage for a potentially intact pKPI protein in insect midgut after eating poplar leaves.
  • These results highlight the complexity of an important defense gene family in poplar with regard to gene family size, differential constitutive and insect-induced gene expression, and resilience of at least one pKPI protein to digestion by herbivores.

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