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Partial functional conservation of IRX10 homologs in physcomitrella patens and Arabidopsis thaliana indicates an evolutionary step contributing to vascular formation in land plants

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2229-13-3

Keywords: Plant cell wall, Hemicellulose, Arabidopsis thaliana, Physcomitrella patens, Glycosyltransferases, Xylan

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Abstract:

Analysis of the Physcomitrella patens genome has revealed the presence of homologs for all of the Arabidopsis glycosyltransferases including IRX9, IRX10 and IRX14 required for the synthesis of the glucuronoxylan backbone. The Physcomitrella IRX10 homolog is expressed in a variety of moss tissues which were newly formed or undergoing expansion. There is a high degree of sequence conservation between the Physcomitrella IRX10 and Arabidopsis IRX10 and IRX10-L. Despite this sequence similarity, the Physcomitrella IRX10 gene is only able to partially rescue the Arabidopsis irx10 irx10-L double mutant indicating that there has been a neo- or sub-functionalisation during the evolution of higher plants. Analysis of the monosaccharide composition of stems from the partially rescued Arabidopsis plants does not show any significant change in xylose content compared to the irx10 irx10-L double mutant. Likewise, knockout mutants of the Physcomitrella IRX10 gene do not result in any visible phenotype and there is no significant change in monosaccharide composition of the cell walls.The fact that the Physcomitrella IRX10 (PpGT47A) protein can partially complement an Arabidopsis irx10 irx10-L double mutant suggests that it shares some function with the Arabidopsis proteins, but the lack of a phenotype in knockout lines shows that the function is not required for growth or development under normal conditions in Physcomitrella. In contrast, the Arabidopsis irx10 and irx10 irx10-L mutants have strong phenotypes indicating an important function in growth and development. We conclude that the evolution of vascular plants has been associated with a significant change or adaptation in the function of the IRX10 gene family.The components and structures of plant cell walls have evolved over millions of years, resulting in a diverse range of traits and functions. From a comparison of cell walls of land plants, it is apparent that there are some common structural components, and that at least

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