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Diel pattern of circadian clock and storage protein gene expression in leaves and during seed filling in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)
- Weiss, Julia, Terry, Marta I., Martos-Fuentes, Marina, Letourneux, Lisa, Ruiz-Hernández, Victoria, Fernández, Juan A., Egea-Cortines, Marcos
- BMC plant biology 2018 v.18 no.1 pp. 33
- Vigna unguiculata, circadian clocks, convicilin, cowpeas, developmental stages, energy, filling period, gene expression, genes, globulins, growth chambers, leaves, legumin, pods, protein deposition, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, ripening, seed development, seeds, transcription (genetics), variance, vicilin
- BACKGROUND: Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an important source of protein supply for animal and human nutrition. The major storage globulins VICILIN and LEGUMIN (LEG) are synthesized from several genes including LEGA, LEGB, LEGJ and CVC (CONVICILIN). The current hypothesis is that the plant circadian core clock genes are conserved in a wide array of species and that primary metabolism is to a large extent controlled by the plant circadian clock. Our aim was to investigate a possible link between gene expression of storage proteins and the circadian clock. RESULTS: We identified cowpea orthologues of the core clock genes VunLHY, VunTOC1, VunGI and VunELF3, the protein storage genes VunLEG, VunLEGJ, and VunCVC as well as nine candidate reference genes used in RT-PCR. ELONGATION FACTOR 1-A (ELF1A) resulted the most suitable reference gene. The clock genes VunELF3, VunGI, VunTOC1 and VunLHY showed a rhythmic expression profile in leaves with a typical evening/night and morning/midday phased expression. The diel patterns were not completely robust and only VungGI and VungELF3 retained a rhythmic pattern under free running conditions of darkness. Under field conditions, rhythmicity and phasing apparently faded during early pod and seed development and was regained in ripening pods for VunTOC1 and VunLHY. Mature seeds showed a rhythmic expression of VunGI resembling leaf tissue under controlled growth chamber conditions. Comparing time windows during developmental stages we found that VunCVC and VunLEG were significantly down regulated during the night in mature pods as compared to intermediate ripe pods, while changes in seeds were non-significant due to high variance. The rhythmic expression under field conditions was lost under growth chamber conditions. CONCLUSIONS: The core clock gene network is conserved in cowpea leaves showing a robust diel expression pattern except VunELF3 under growth chamber conditions. There appears to be a clock transcriptional reprogramming in pods and seeds compared to leaves. Storage protein deposition may be circadian regulated under field conditions but the strong environmental signals are not met under artificial growth conditions. Diel expression pattern in field conditions may result in better usage of energy for protein storage.