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Gene. 2017 Aug 30;626:395-406. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2017.05.058. Epub 2017 May 31.

Transcriptome profiling of the floral buds and discovery of genes related to sex-differentiation in the dioecious cucurbit Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt.

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Functional Genomics Laboratory, Centre of Biotechnology, Siksha O Anusandhan University, Kalinga Nagar, Ghatikia, Bhubaneswar 751003, India.
Centre of Advanced Study, Dept. of Botany, University of Calcutta, 35 Ballygunge Circular Road, Kolkata 700019, India.
Functional Genomics Laboratory, Centre of Biotechnology, Siksha O Anusandhan University, Kalinga Nagar, Ghatikia, Bhubaneswar 751003, India. Electronic address:


Dioecious species offer an inclusive structure to study the molecular basis of sexual dimorphism in angiosperms. Despite having a small genome and heteromorphic sex chromosomes, Coccinia grandis is a highly neglected dioecious species with little information available on its physical state, genetic orientation and key sex-defining elements. In the present study, we performed RNA-Seq and DGE analysis of male (MB) and female (FB) buds in C. grandis to gain insights into the molecular basis of sex determination in this plant. De novo assembly of 75 million clean reads resulted in 72,479 unigenes for male library and 63,308 unigenes for female library with a mean length of 736bp. 61,458 (85.57%) unigenes displayed significant similarity with protein sequences from publicly available databases. Comparative transcriptome analyses revealed 1410 unigenes as differentially expressed (DEGs) between MB and FB samples. A consistent correlation between the expression levels of DEGs was observed for the RNA-Seq pattern and qRT-PCR validation. Functional annotation showed high enrichment of DEGs involved in phytohormone biosynthesis, hormone signaling and transduction, transcriptional regulation and methyltransferase activity. High induction of hormone responsive genes such as ARF6, ACC synthase1, SNRK2 and BRI1-associated receptor kinase 1 (BAK1) suggest that multiple phytohormones and their signaling crosstalk play crucial role in sex determination in this species. Beside, the transcription factors such as zinc fingers, homeodomain leucine zippers and MYBs were identified as major determinants of male specific expression. Moreover, the detection of multiple DEGs as the miRNA target site implies that a small RNA mediated gene silencing cascade may also be regulating gender differentiation in C. grandis. Overall, the present transcriptome resources provide us a large number of DEGs involved in sex expression and could form the groundwork for unravelling the molecular mechanism of sex determination in C. grandis.


Coccinia grandis; Dioecious; Methylatransferase; Phytohormone signaling; RNA-seq; Sex determination; Transcription factors

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