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Identification of coffee WRKY transcription factor genes and expression profiling in resistance responses to pathogens

Ramiro, Daniel, Jalloul, Aida, Petitot, Anne-Sophie, Grossi De Sá, Maria Fátima, Maluf, Mirian P., Fernandez, Diana
Tree genetics & genomes 2010 v.6 no.5 pp. 767-781
Arabidopsis thaliana, rust diseases, transcription factors, biosynthesis, biotic stress, complementary DNA, linoleate 13S-lipoxygenase, expressed sequence tags, methyl jasmonate, unigenes, gene expression, plant pathogenic fungi, disease resistance, Coffea, Nematoda, salicylic acid, pest resistance, fruiting, leaves
In plants, WRKY proteins are a group of transcription factors existing as a gene superfamily that play important roles in regulation of defense response pathways. To assess the diversity of this protein family in coffee (Coffea spp.), data mining methods were used on a set of around 200,000 coffee expressed sequence tags. A total of 53 different putative WRKY genes were obtained, but only 22 unigenes encoding a protein with a WRKY domain were identified, eight of which are supported by full-length cDNA sequences. Alignment of WRKY domain sequences of the coffee unigenes and 72 Arabidopsis thaliana WRKY genes showed that the 22 coffee WRKY members were distributed among the main A. thaliana WRKY subgroups and shared conserved peptide domains. To assess the involvement of WRKY genes in coffee defense response pathways, their expression was analyzed under biotic (nematode and rust fungus infection), hormonal (salicylic acid, methyl-jasmonate), and wounding treatments, leaf senescence, and fruit development. Five members of WRKY groups IId and III were regulated only by pathogens and hormone treatments. Although a significant correlation of WRKY genes expression after MeJA and rust treatments was observed, expression of coffee genes involved in JA biosynthesis and lipoxygenase (EC activity assays did not support the involvement of JA in the early coffee resistance responses to the rust pathogen. The five WRKY transcription factor members identified might play important roles as regulators of pathogen resistance responses and could be useful for improving coffee tolerance to various biotic stresses.