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Gene. 2013 Aug 1;525(1):58-76. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2013.04.057. Epub 2013 May 1.

De novo sequencing and assembly of Centella asiatica leaf transcriptome for mapping of structural, functional and regulatory genes with special reference to secondary metabolism.

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  • 1Metabolic and Structural Biology Department, CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), P.O. CIMAP, Lucknow-226015, India.


Centella asiatica (L.) Urban is an important medicinal plant and has been used since ancient times in traditional systems of medicine. C. asiatica mainly contains ursane skeleton based triterpenoid sapogenins and saponins predominantly in its leaves. This investigation employed Illumina next generation sequencing (NGS) strategy on a pool of three cDNAs from expanding leaf of C. asiatica and developed an assembled transcriptome sequence resource of the plant. The short transcript reads (STRs) generated and assembled into contigs and singletons, representing majority of the genes expressed in C. asiatica, were termed as 'tentative unique transcripts' (TUTs). The TUT dataset was analyzed with the objectives of (i) development of a transcriptome assembly of C. asiatica, and (ii) classification/characterization of the genes into categories like structural, functional, regulatory etc. based on their function. Overall, 68.49% of the 46,171,131 reads generated in the NGS process could be assembled into a total of 79,041 contigs. Gene ontology and functional annotation of sequences resulted into the identification of genes related to different sets of cellular functions including identification of genes related to primary and secondary metabolism. The wet lab validation of seventeen assembled gene sequences identified to be involved in secondary metabolic pathways and control of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was established by semi-quantitative and real time PCR (qRT-PCR). The validation also included sequencing/size matching of a set of semi-quantitative PCR amplicons with their in silico assembled contig/gene. This confirmed the appropriateness of assembling the reads and contigs. Thus, the present study constitutes the largest report to date on C. asiatica transcriptome based gene resource that may contribute substantially to the understanding of the basal biological functions and biochemical pathways of secondary metabolites as well as the transcriptional regulatory elements and genetic markers. This work sets the stage for multi-faceted future improvement of the plant, through discovery of new genes, marker-assisted breeding or genetic engineering, on this species as well as for other species of Apiaceae and triterpene producing medicinal plants.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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