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Open Access Research article

A dehydration-inducible gene in the truffle Tuber borchii identifies a novel group of dehydrins

Simona Abba', Stefano Ghignone and Paola Bonfante*

Author Affiliations

Dipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell'Università degli Studi di Torino and IPP-CNR-Sezione di Torino, Viale Mattioli 25, 10125 Torino, Italy

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-39

Published: 2 March 2006

Abstract

Background

The expressed sequence tag M6G10 was originally isolated from a screening for differentially expressed transcripts during the reproductive stage of the white truffle Tuber borchii. mRNA levels for M6G10 increased dramatically during fruiting body maturation compared to the vegetative mycelial stage.

Results

Bioinformatics tools, phylogenetic analysis and expression studies were used to support the hypothesis that this sequence, named TbDHN1, is the first dehydrin (DHN)-like coding gene isolated in fungi. Homologs of this gene, all defined as "coding for hypothetical proteins" in public databases, were exclusively found in ascomycetous fungi and in plants. Although complete (or almost complete) fungal genomes and EST collections of some Basidiomycota and Glomeromycota are already available, DHN-like proteins appear to be represented only in Ascomycota. A new and previously uncharacterized conserved signature pattern was identified and proposed to Uniprot database as the main distinguishing feature of this new group of DHNs. Expression studies provide experimental evidence of a transcript induction of TbDHN1 during cellular dehydration.

Conclusion

Expression pattern and sequence similarities to known plant DHNs indicate that TbDHN1 is the first characterized DHN-like protein in fungi. The high similarity of TbDHN1 with homolog coding sequences implies the existence of a novel fungal/plant group of LEA Class II proteins characterized by a previously undescribed signature pattern.