We analyzed the Arabidopsis thaliana genome sequence to detect Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) protein genes, using as reference sequences proteins related to LEAs previously described in cotton or which present similar characteristics. We selected 50 genes representing nine groups. Most of the encoded predicted proteins are small and contain repeated domains that are often specific to a unique LEA group. Comparison of these domains indicates that proteins with classical group 5 motifs are related to group 3 proteins and also gives information on the possible history of these repetitions. Chromosomal gene locations reveal that several LEA genes result from whole genome duplications (WGD) and that 14 are organized in direct tandem repeats. Expression of 45 of these genes was tested in different plant organs, as well as in response to ABA and in mutants (such as abi3, abi5, lec2 and fus3) altered in their response to ABA or in seed maturation. The results demonstrate that several so-called LEA genes are expressed in vegetative tissues in the absence of any abiotic stress, that LEA genes from the same group do not present identical expression profile and, finally, that regulation of LEA genes with apparently similar expression patterns does not systematically involve the same regulatory pathway.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 12, 2008
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