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J Exp Bot. 2007;58(13):3731-42.

Gene expression associated with increased supercooling capability in xylem parenchyma cells of larch (Larix kaempferi).

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  • 1Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8589, Japan.


Xylem parenchyma cells (XPCs) in larch adapt to subfreezing temperatures by deep supercooling, while cortical parenchyma cells (CPCs) undergo extracellular freezing. The temperature limits of supercooling in XPCs changed seasonally from -30 degrees C during summer to -60 degrees C during winter as measured by freezing resistance. Artificial deacclimation of larch twigs collected in winter reduced the supercooling capability from -60 degrees C to -30 degrees C. As an approach to clarify the mechanisms underlying the change in supercooling capability of larch XPCs, genes expressed in association with increased supercooling capability were examined. By differential screening and differential display analysis, 30 genes were found to be expressed in association with increased supercooling capability in XPCs. These 30 genes were categorized into several groups according to their functions: signal transduction factors, metabolic enzymes, late embryogenesis abundant proteins, heat shock proteins, protein synthesis and chromatin constructed proteins, defence response proteins, membrane transporters, metal-binding proteins, and functionally unknown proteins. All of these genes were expressed most abundantly during winter, and their expression was reduced or disappeared during summer. The expression of all of the genes was significantly reduced or disappeared with deacclimation of winter twigs. Interestingly, all but one of the genes were expressed more abundantly in the xylem than in the cortex. Eleven of the 30 genes were thought to be novel cold-induced genes. The results suggest that change in the supercooling capability of XPCs is associated with expression of genes, including genes whose functions have not been identified, and also indicate that gene products that have been thought to play a role in dehydration tolerance by extracellular freezing also have a function by deep supercooling.

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