UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Analysis of MAPK and MAPKK gene families in wheat and related Triticeae species Goyal, Ravinder K; Tulpan, Dan; Chomistek, Nora; González-Peña Fundora, Dianevys; West, Connor; Ellis, Brian E; Frick, Michele; Laroche, André; Foroud, Nora A


Background: The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family is involved in signal transduction networks that underpin many different biological processes in plants, ranging from development to biotic and abiotic stress responses. To date this class of enzymes has received little attention in Triticeae species, which include important cereal crops (wheat, barley, rye and triticale) that represent over 20% of the total protein food-source worldwide. Results: The work presented here focuses on two subfamilies of Triticeae MAPKs, the MAP kinases (MPKs), and the MAPK kinases (MKKs) whose members phosphorylate the MPKs. In silico analysis of multiple Triticeae sequence databases led to the identification of 152 MAPKs belonging to these two sub-families. Some previously identified MAPKs were renamed to reflect the literature consensus on MAPK nomenclature. Two novel MPKs, MPK24 and MPK25, have been identified, including the first example of a plant MPK carrying the TGY activation loop sequence common to mammalian p38 MPKs. An EF-hand calcium-binding domain was found in members of the Triticeae MPK17 clade, a feature that appears to be specific to Triticeae species. New insights into the novel MEY activation loop identified in MPK11s are offered. When the exon-intron patterns for some MPKs and MKKs of wheat, barley and ancestors of wheat were assembled based on transcript data in GenBank, they showed deviations from the same sequence predicted in Ensembl. The functional relevance of MAPKs as derived from patterns of gene expression, MPK activation and MKK-MPK interaction is discussed. Conclusions: A comprehensive resource of accurately annotated and curated Triticeae MPK and MKK sequences has been created for wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and two ancestral wheat species, goat grass and red wild einkorn. The work we present here offers a central information resource that will resolve existing confusion in the literature and sustain expansion of MAPK research in the crucial Triticeae grains.

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