Open Access Research article

Characterization of the caleosin gene family in the Triticeae

Hala Badr Khalil13, Sabrina C Brunetti1, Uyen Minh Pham1, Deborah Maret1, André Laroche2 and Patrick J Gulick1*

Author Affiliations

1 Biology Department, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke W, Montreal, QC H4B 1R6, Canada

2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, 5403, 1st Avenue South, C.P. 3000, Lethbridge, AB T1J 4B1, Canada

3 Present address: Department of Genetics, Faculty of Agriculture, Ain-Shams University, Shoubra El-khema, Cairo, Egypt

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:239  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-239

Published: 27 March 2014



The caleosin genes encode proteins with a single conserved EF hand calcium-binding domain and comprise small gene families found in a wide range of plant species. Some members of the gene family have been shown to be upregulated by environmental stresses including low water availability and high salinity. Caleosin 3 from wheat has been shown to interact with the α-subunit of the heterotrimeric G proteins, and to act as a GTPase activating protein (GAP). This study characterizes the size and diversity of the gene family in wheat and related species and characterizes the differential tissue-specific expression of members of the gene family.


A total of 34 gene family members that belong to eleven paralogous groups of caleosins were identified in the hexaploid bread wheat, T. aestivum. Each group was represented by three homeologous copies of the gene located on corresponding homeologous chromosomes, except the caleosin 10, which has four gene copies. Ten gene family members were identified in diploid barley, Hordeum vulgare, and in rye, Secale cereale, seven in Brachypodium distachyon, and six in rice, Oryza sativa. The analysis of gene expression was assayed in triticale and rye by RNA-Seq analysis of 454 sequence sets and members of the gene family were found to have diverse patterns of gene expression in the different tissues that were sampled in rye and in triticale, the hybrid hexaploid species derived from wheat and rye. Expression of the gene family in wheat and barley was also previously determined by microarray analysis, and changes in expression during development and in response to environmental stresses are presented.


The caleosin gene family had a greater degree of expansion in the Triticeae than in the other monocot species, Brachypodium and rice. The prior implication of one member of the gene family in the stress response and heterotrimeric G protein signaling, points to the potential importance of the caleosin gene family. The complexity of the family and differential expression in various tissues and under conditions of abiotic stress suggests the possibility that caleosin family members may play diverse roles in signaling and development that warrants further investigation.

Caleosin gene family; Calcium-binding protein; Phylogenetic analysis; Tissue-specific expression; GAP; Gα; Heterotrimeric G protein signaling; RNA-seq