Identification of Differentially Expressed Genes in Leaf of Reaumuria soongorica under PEG-Induced Drought Stress by Digital Gene Expression Profiling

>Reaumuria soongorica (Pall.) Maxim., a resurrection semi-shrub, is a typical constructive and dominant species in desert ecosystems in northwestern China. However, the gene expression characteristics of R. soongorica under drought stress have not been elucidated. Digital gene expression analysis was performed using Illumina technique to investigate differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between control and PEG-treated samples of R. soongorica. A total of 212,338 and 211,052 distinct tags were detected in the control and PEG-treated libraries, respectively. A total of 1,325 genes were identified as DEGs, 379 (28.6%) of which were up-regulated and 946 (71.4%) were down-regulated in response to drought stress. Functional annotation analysis identified numerous drought-inducible genes with various functions in response to drought stress. A number of regulatory proteins, functional proteins, and proteins induced by other stress factors in R. soongorica were identified. Alteration in the regulatory proteins (transcription factors and protein kinase) may be involved in signal transduction. Functional proteins, including flavonoid biosynthetic proteins, late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins, small heat shock proteins (sHSP), and aquaporin and proline transporter may play protective roles in response to drought stress. Flavonoids, LEA proteins and sHSP function as reactive oxygen species scavenger or molecular chaperone. Aquaporin and proline transporters regulate the distribution of water and proline throughout the whole plant. The tolerance ability of R. soongorica may be gained through effective signal transduction and enhanced protection of functional proteins to reestablish cellular homeostasis. DEGs obtained in this study may provide useful insights to help further understand the drought-tolerant mechanism of R. soongorica.

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