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Open Access Research article

The spectrum of low molecular weight alpha-amylase/protease inhibitor genes expressed in the US bread wheat cultivar Butte 86

Susan B Altenbach*, William H Vensel and Frances M Dupont

Author Affiliations

USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center, 800 Buchanan Street, Albany, CA 94710, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:242  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-242

Published: 20 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Wheat grains accumulate a variety of low molecular weight proteins that are inhibitors of alpha-amylases and proteases and play an important protective role in the grain. These proteins have more balanced amino acid compositions than the major wheat gluten proteins and contribute important reserves for both seedling growth and human nutrition. The alpha-amylase/protease inhibitors also are of interest because they cause IgE-mediated occupational and food allergies and thereby impact human health.

Results

The complement of genes encoding alpha-amylase/protease inhibitors expressed in the US bread wheat Butte 86 was characterized by analysis of expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Coding sequences for 19 distinct proteins were identified. These included two monomeric (WMAI), four dimeric (WDAI), and six tetrameric (WTAI) inhibitors of exogenous alpha-amylases, two inhibitors of endogenous alpha-amylases (WASI), four putative trypsin inhibitors (CMx and WTI), and one putative chymotrypsin inhibitor (WCI). A number of the encoded proteins were identical or very similar to proteins in the NCBI database. Sequences not reported previously included variants of WTAI-CM3, three CMx inhibitors and WTI. Within the WDAI group, two different genes encoded the same mature protein. Based on numbers of ESTs, transcripts for WTAI-CM3 Bu-1, WMAI Bu-1 and WTAI-CM16 Bu-1 were most abundant in Butte 86 developing grain. Coding sequences for 16 of the inhibitors were unequivocally associated with specific proteins identified by tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) in a previous proteomic analysis of milled white flour from Butte 86. Proteins corresponding to WDAI Bu-1/Bu-2, WMAI Bu-1 and the WTAI subunits CM2 Bu-1, CM3 Bu-1 and CM16 Bu-1 were accumulated to the highest levels in flour.

Conclusions

Information on the spectrum of alpha-amylase/protease inhibitor genes and proteins expressed in a single wheat cultivar is central to understanding the importance of these proteins in both plant defense mechanisms and human allergies and facilitates both breeding and biotechnology approaches for manipulating the composition of these proteins in plants.

Keywords:
allergens; expressed sequence tags; plant defense proteins; tandem mass spectrometry