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Genomic Organization and Evolutionary Insights on GRP and NCR Genes, Two Large Nodule-Specific Gene Families in Medicago truncatula

September 2007 , Volume 20 , Number  9
Pages  1,138 - 1,148

Benoit Alunni, Zoltan Kevei, Miguel Redondo-Nieto, Adam Kondorosi, Peter Mergaert, and Eva Kondorosi

Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UPR2355, Bat 23, Avenue de la Terrasse, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette cedex, France

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Accepted 20 April 2007.

Deciphering the mechanisms leading to symbiotic nitrogen-fixing root nodule organogenesis in legumes resulted in the identification of numerous nodule-specific genes and gene families. Among them, NCR and GRP genes encode short secreted peptides with potential antimicrobial activity. These genes appear to form large multigenic families in Medicago truncatula and other closely related legume species, whereas no similar genes were found in databases of Lotus japonicus and Glycine max. We analyzed the genomic organization of these genes as well as their evolutionary dynamics in the M. truncatula genome. A total of 108 NCR and 23 GRP genes have been mapped that were often clustered in the genome. These included 29 new NCR and 17 new GRP genes. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses of the novel genes confirmed their exclusive nodule-specific expression similar to the previously identified members. Protein alignments and phylogenetic analyses revealed traces of several duplication events in the history of GRP and NCR genes. Moreover, microsyntenic evidences between M. truncatula and L. japonicus validated the hypothesis that these genes are specific for the inverted repeat--lacking clade of hologalegoid legumes, which allowed dating the appearance of these two gene families during the evolution of legume plants.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society