A new cellulose synthase gene (PtrCesA2) from aspen xylem is orthologous to Arabidopsis AtCesA7 (irx3) gene associated with secondary cell wall synthesis

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We report here the molecular cloning and characterization of a new full-length cellulose synthase (CesA) cDNA, PtrCesA2 from aspen (Populus tremuloides) trees. The predicted PtrCesA2 protein shows a high degree of identity/similarity (87%/91%) to the predicted gene product of Arabidopsis AtCesA7 gene that has been associated with secondary cell wall development. Previously, a mutation in AtCesA7 gene (irx3) was correlated with a significant decrease in the amount of cellulose synthesized (about 70%) and genetic complementation of irx3 mutant with a wild-type AtCesA7 gene restored the normal phenotype. This is the first report of a full-length AtCesA7 ortholog from any non-Arabidopsis species. Interestingly, PtrCesA2 shares only 64% identity with our earlier reported PtrCesA1 from aspen suggesting its structural distinctness from the only other known CesA member from the aspen genome. PtrCesA1 is a xylem-specific and tension stress responsive gene that is highly similar to another Arabidopsis gene, AtCesA8 which also has been associated with secondary wall development. Moreover, AtCesA7 and AtCesA8 are suggested to be part of the same cellulose synthase complex. Isolation of PtrCesA2 from a xylem library enriched in cells with active secondary wall synthesis, PtrCesA2 expression levels similar to PtrCesA1 and high similarity of PtrCesA1 and PtrCesA2 to AtCesA8 and AtCesA7, respectively, suggest that both these aspen genes might be involved in the secondary wall development in aspen woody tissues. Availability of two aspen CesA orthologs will now enable us to examine if PtrCesA1 and PtrCesA2 functionally interact during aspen wood development that has long-term implications on genetic improvement of forest trees. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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