Characterization and Tissue-specific Expression of bHLH Genes in Dimocarpus longan
Keywords:bHLH transcription factor; bioinformatics analysis; Dimocarpus longan Lour.; expression patterns
In plants, the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors (TFs) play pivotal roles in many biological processes including growth, stress response, and secondary metabolite synthesis. To date, many bHLH genes have been identified and characterized in diverse plant species. However, little is known regarding the bHLH genes in Dimocarpus longan Lour. (D. longan). Based on RNA-seq data, we identified 42 putative bHLH genes from D. longan and determined their putative functions using the NCBI Conserved Domain Search Tool and Pfam databases. The physicochemical properties, phylogenetic relationships, conserved motifs, gene ontology (GO) annotations, protein-protein interactions, and tissue-specific expression patterns of these bHLH genes were systematically explored. In total, ten motifs were found in DlbHLH proteins using MEME, among which two were highly conserved. Phylogenetic tree analysis found that DlbHLH proteins can be divided into nine groups, with group 2 being the largest. GO annotation results showed that the DlHLH genes were involved in various molecular functions. RNA-seq and qRT-PCR results revealed important differences in the expression patterns of 17 of the DlbHLH genes. In particular, DlbHLH-9, DlbHLH-19, DlbHLH-25, DlbHLH-26, and DlbHLH-35 were found to show significantly different expression patterns in root and leaf tissues. The results of this study will further enrich our knowledge regarding bHLH transcription factor genes and lay a foundation for enhancing the production of active secondary metabolites by genetic engineering in D. longan.
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