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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

An efficient approach to finding Siraitia grosvenorii triterpene biosynthetic genes by RNA-seq and digital gene expression analysis

Qi Tang12, Xiaojun Ma12*, Changming Mo2, Iain W Wilson3, Cai Song2, Huan Zhao1, Yanfang Yang4, Wei Fu1 and Deyou Qiu4*

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Medicinal Plant, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100193, China

2 Guangxi Branch Institute, Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Nanning 530023, China

3 CSIRO Plant Industry, PO Box 1600, Canberra ACT 2001, Australia

4 The Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:343  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-343

Published: 5 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Siraitia grosvenorii (Luohanguo) is an herbaceous perennial plant native to southern China and most prevalent in Guilin city. Its fruit contains a sweet, fleshy, edible pulp that is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The major bioactive constituents in the fruit extract are the cucurbitane-type triterpene saponins known as mogrosides. Among them, mogroside V is nearly 300 times sweeter than sucrose. However, little is known about mogrosides biosynthesis in S. grosvenorii, especially the late steps of the pathway.

Results

In this study, a cDNA library generated from of equal amount of RNA taken from S. grosvenorii fruit at 50 days after flowering (DAF) and 70 DAF were sequenced using Illumina/Solexa platform. More than 48,755,516 high-quality reads from a cDNA library were generated that was assembled into 43,891 unigenes. De novo assembly and gap-filling generated 43,891 unigenes with an average sequence length of 668 base pairs. A total of 26,308 (59.9%) unique sequences were annotated and 11,476 of the unique sequences were assigned to specific metabolic pathways by the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes. cDNA sequences for all of the known enzymes involved in mogrosides backbone synthesis were identified from our library. Additionally, a total of eighty-five cytochrome P450 (CYP450) and ninety UDP-glucosyltransferase (UDPG) unigenes were identified, some of which appear to encode enzymes responsible for the conversion of the mogroside backbone into the various mogrosides. Digital gene expression profile (DGE) analysis using Solexa sequencing was performed on three important stages of fruit development, and based on their expression pattern, seven CYP450s and five UDPGs were selected as the candidates most likely to be involved in mogrosides biosynthesis.

Conclusion

A combination of RNA-seq and DGE analysis based on the next generation sequencing technology was shown to be a powerful method for identifying candidate genes encoding enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of novel secondary metabolites in a non-model plant. Seven CYP450s and five UDPGs were selected as potential candidates involved in mogrosides biosynthesis. The transcriptome data from this study provides an important resource for understanding the formation of major bioactive constituents in the fruit extract from S. grosvenorii.