Open Access Research article

Evolution of Parallel Spindles Like genes in plants and highlight of unique domain architecture#

Riccardo Aiese Cigliano1, Walter Sanseverino2, Gaetana Cremona1, Federica M Consiglio1 and Clara Conicella1*

Author affiliations

1 CNR - National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Plant Genetics, Research Division Portici, Via Università 133, 80055 Portici. Italy

2 DISSPAPA, Dept. of Soil, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Naples "Federico II", Via Università 100, 80055 Portici. Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:78  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-78

Published: 24 March 2011



Polyploidy has long been recognized as playing an important role in plant evolution. In flowering plants, the major route of polyploidization is suggested to be sexual through gametes with somatic chromosome number (2n). Parallel Spindle1 gene in Arabidopsis thaliana (AtPS1) was recently demonstrated to control spindle orientation in the 2nd division of meiosis and, when mutated, to induce 2n pollen. Interestingly, AtPS1 encodes a protein with a FHA domain and PINc domain putatively involved in RNA decay (i.e. Nonsense Mediated mRNA Decay). In potato, 2n pollen depending on parallel spindles was described long time ago but the responsible gene has never been isolated. The knowledge derived from AtPS1 as well as the availability of genome sequences makes it possible to isolate potato PSLike (PSL) and to highlight the evolution of PSL family in plants.


Our work leading to the first characterization of PSLs in potato showed a greater PSL complexity in this species respect to Arabidopsis thaliana. Indeed, a genomic PSL locus and seven cDNAs affected by alternative splicing have been cloned. In addition, the occurrence of at least two other PSL loci in potato was suggested by the sequence comparison of alternatively spliced transcripts.

Phylogenetic analysis on 20 Viridaeplantae showed the wide distribution of PSLs throughout the species and the occurrence of multiple copies only in potato and soybean.

The analysis of PSLFHA and PSLPINc domains evidenced that, in terms of secondary structure, a major degree of variability occurred in PINc domain respect to FHA. In terms of specific active sites, both domains showed diversification among plant species that could be related to a functional diversification among PSL genes. In addition, some specific active sites were strongly conserved among plants as supported by sequence alignment and by evidence of negative selection evaluated as difference between non-synonymous and synonymous mutations.


In this study, we highlight the existence of PSLs throughout Viridaeplantae, from mosses to higher plants. We provide evidence that PSLs occur mostly as singleton in the analyzed genomes except in soybean and potato both characterized by a recent whole genome duplication event. In potato, we suggest the candidate PSL gene having a role in 2n pollen that should be deeply investigated.

We provide useful insight into evolutionary conservation of FHA and PINc domains throughout plant PSLs which suggest a fundamental role of these domains for PSL function.