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Funct Integr Genomics. 2008 May;8(2):115-33. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

The PIP and TIP aquaporins in wheat form a large and diverse family with unique gene structures and functionally important features.

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  • 1Environment and Biotechnology Centre, Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, PO Box 218, John St, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia.


Aquaporins, members of major intrinsic proteins (MIPs), transport water across cellular membranes and play vital roles in all organisms. Adversities such as drought, salinity, or chilling affect water uptake and transport, and numerous plant MIPs are reported to be differentially regulated under such stresses. However, MIP genes have been not yet been characterized in wheat, the largest cereal crop. We have identified 24 PIP and 11 TIP aquaporin genes from wheat by gene isolation and database searches. They vary extensively in lengths, numbers, and sequences of exons and introns, and sequences and cellular locations of predicted proteins, but the intron positions (if present) are characteristic. The putative PIP proteins show a high degree of conservation of signature sequences or residues for membrane integration, water transport, and regulation. The TIPs are more diverse, some with potential for water transport and others with various selectivity filters including a new combination. Most genes appear to be expressed as expressed sequence tags, while two are likely pseudogenes. Many of the genes are highly identical to rice but some are unique, and many correspond to genes that show differential expression under salinity and/or drought. The results provide extensive information for functional studies and developing markers for stress tolerance.

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