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Open Access Research article

Characterization and comparative analysis of HMW glutenin 1Ay alleles with differential expressions

Qian-Tao Jiang12, Yu-Ming Wei12, Feng Wang1, Ji-Rui Wang12, Ze-Hong Yan12 and You-Liang Zheng12*

Author Affiliations

1 Triticeae Research Institute, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya'an, Sichuan, 625014, PR China

2 Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Resources and Improvement, Ministry of Education, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya'an, Sichuan, 625014, PR China

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-16

Published: 6 February 2009



High-molecular-weight glutenin subunits (HMW-GSs) have been considered as most important seed storage proteins for wheat flour quality. 1Ay subunits are of great interest because they are always silent in common wheat. The presence of expressed 1Ay subunits in diploid and tetraploid wheat genotypes makes it possible to investigate molecular information of active 1Ay genes.


We identified 1Ay subunits with different electrophoretic mobility from 141 accessions of diploid and tetraploid wheats, and obtained the complete ORFs and 5' flanking sequences of 1Ay genes including 6 active and 3 inactive ones. Furthermore, the 5' flanking sequences were characterized from 23 wild diploid species of Triticeae. All 6 active 1Ay possess a typical HMW-GS primary structure and some novel characteristics. The conserved cysteine residue within the repetitive domain of y-type subunits was replaced by phenylalanine residue in subunits of 1Ay (Tu-e1), 1Ay (Tu-e2), 1Ay (Ta-e2) and 1Ay (Td-e). Particularly, 1Ay (Ta-e3) has an unusual large molecular weight of 2202 bp and was one of the known largest y-type HMW-GSs. The translations of 1Ay (Tu-s), 1Ay (Ta-s) and 1Ay (Td-s) were disrupted by premature stop codons in their coding regions. The 5' flanking sequences of active and inactive 1Ay genes differ in a few base substitutions and insertions or deletions. The 85 bp deletions have been found in promoter regions of all 1Ay genes and the corresponding positions of 6 species from Aegilops and Hordeum.


The possession of larger molecular weight and fewer conserved cysteine residues are unique structural features of 1Ay genes; it would be interested to express them in bread wheat and further to examine their impact to processing quality of wheat. The 1Ay genes from T. urartu are closer to the genes from T. turgidum dicoccon and T. aestivum, than those from T. monococcum aegilopoides. The 85 bp deletion and some variations in the 5'flanking region, have not interrupted expression of 1Ay genes, whereas the defects in the coding regions could be responsible to the silence of the 1Ay genes. Some mutational events in more distant distal promoter regions are also possible causes for the inactivation of 1Ay genes.