Author(s): Paulose B, Kandasamy S, Dhankher OP
Abstract Share this page
Abstract BACKGROUND: Arsenic contamination is widespread throughout the world and this toxic metalloid is known to cause cancers of organs such as liver, kidney, skin, and lung in human. In spite of a recent surge in arsenic related studies, we are still far from a comprehensive understanding of arsenic uptake, detoxification, and sequestration in plants. Crambe abyssinica, commonly known as 'abyssinian mustard', is a non-food, high biomass oil seed crop that is naturally tolerant to heavy metals. Moreover, it accumulates significantly higher levels of arsenic as compared to other species of the Brassicaceae family. Thus, C. abyssinica has great potential to be utilized as an ideal inedible crop for phytoremediation of heavy metals and metalloids. However, the mechanism of arsenic metabolism in higher plants, including C. abyssinica, remains elusive. RESULTS: To identify the differentially expressed transcripts and the pathways involved in arsenic metabolism and detoxification, C. abyssinica plants were subjected to arsenate stress and a PCR-Select Suppression Subtraction Hybridization (SSH) approach was employed. A total of 105 differentially expressed subtracted cDNAs were sequenced which were found to represent 38 genes. Those genes encode proteins functioning as antioxidants, metal transporters, reductases, enzymes involved in the protein degradation pathway, and several novel uncharacterized proteins. The transcripts corresponding to the subtracted cDNAs showed strong upregulation by arsenate stress as confirmed by the semi-quantitative RT-PCR. CONCLUSIONS: Our study revealed novel insights into the plant defense mechanisms and the regulation of genes and gene networks in response to arsenate toxicity. The differential expression of transcripts encoding glutathione-S-transferases, antioxidants, sulfur metabolism, heat-shock proteins, metal transporters, and enzymes in the ubiquitination pathway of protein degradation as well as several unknown novel proteins serve as molecular evidence for the physiological responses to arsenate stress in plants. Additionally, many of these cDNA clones showing strong upregulation due to arsenate stress could be used as valuable markers. Further characterization of these differentially expressed genes would be useful to develop novel strategies for efficient phytoremediation as well as for engineering arsenic tolerant crops with reduced arsenic translocation to the edible parts of plants.
This article was published in BMC Plant Biol
and referenced in Bioenergetics: Open Access