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Gene. 2000 Jan 25;242(1-2):427-36.

Characterization of a ubiquitous expressed gene family encoding polygalacturonase in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire des Plantes, UMR 5575, CNRS and Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


Pectin, as one of the major components of plant cell wall, has been implicated in many developmental processes occurring during plant growth. Among the different enzymes known to participate in the pectin structure modifications, polygalacturonase (PG) activity has been shown to be associated with fruit ripening, organ abscission and pollen grain development. Until now, sequence analyses of the deduced polypeptides of the plant PG genes allowed their grouping into three clades corresponding to genes involved in one of these three activities. In this study, we report the sequence of three genomic clones encoding PG in Arabidopsis thaliana. These genes, together with 16 other genes present in the databases form a large gene family, ubiquitously expressed, present on the five chromosomes with at least two gene clusters on chromosomes II and V, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the A. thaliana gene family contains five classes of genes, with three of them corresponding to the previously defined clades. Comparison of positions and numbers of introns among the A. thaliana genes reveals structural conservation between genes belonging to the same class. The pattern of intron losses that could have given rise to the PG gene family is consistent with a mechanism of intron loss by replacement of an ancestral intron-containing gene with a reverse-transcribed DNA copy of a spliced mRNA. Following this event of intron loss, the acquisition of introns in novel positions is consistent with a mechanism of intron gain at proto-splice sites.

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