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Open Access Research article

Genome-wide analysis of NBS-encoding disease resistance genes in Cucumis sativus and phylogenetic study of NBS-encoding genes in Cucurbitaceae crops

Hongjian Wan12, Wei Yuan2, Kailiang Bo1, Jia Shen1, Xin Pang1 and Jinfeng Chen1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, College of Horticulture, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, People’s Republic of China

2 Institute of Vegetables, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, 310021, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:109  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-109

Published: 19 February 2013



Plant nucleotide-binding site (NBS)-leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins encoded by resistance genes play an important role in the responses of plants to various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and nematodes. In this study, a comprehensive analysis of NBS-encoding genes within the whole cucumber genome was performed, and the phylogenetic relationships of NBS-encoding resistance gene homologues (RGHs) belonging to six species in five genera of Cucurbitaceae crops were compared.


Cucumber has relatively few NBS-encoding genes. Nevertheless, cucumber maintains genes belonging to both Toll/interleukine-1 receptor (TIR) and CC (coiled-coil) families. Eight commonly conserved motifs have been established in these two families which support the grouping into TIR and CC families. Moreover, three additional conserved motifs, namely, CNBS-1, CNBS-2 and TNBS-1, have been identified in sequences from CC and TIR families. Analyses of exon/intron configurations revealed that some intron loss or gain events occurred during the structural evolution between the two families. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that gene duplication, sequence divergence, and gene loss were proposed as the major modes of evolution of NBS-encoding genes in Cucurbitaceae species. Compared with NBS-encoding sequences from the Arabidopsis thaliana genome, the remaining seven TIR familes of NBS proteins and RGHs from Cucurbitaceae species have been shown to be phylogenetically distinct from the TIR family of NBS-encoding genes in Arabidopsis, except for two subfamilies (TIR4 and TIR9). On the other hand, in the CC-NBS family, they grouped closely with the CC family of NBS-encoding genes in Arabidopsis. Thus, the NBS-encoding genes in Cucurbitaceae crops are shown to be ancient, and NBS-encoding gene expansions (especially the TIR family) may have occurred before the divergence of Cucurbitaceae and Arabidopsis.


The results of this paper will provide a genomic framework for the further isolation of candidate disease resistance NBS-encoding genes in cucumber, and contribute to the understanding of the evolutionary mode of NBS-encoding genes in Cucurbitaceae crops.

NBS-LRR; Cucumber; Cucurbitaceae; Phylogenetic relationship