Comparative transcriptome analysis of Veratrum maackii and Veratrum nigrum reveals multiple candidate genes involved in steroidal alkaloid biosynthesis

Dan Wang, Zhijing Yu, Meng Guan, Qinan Cai, Jia Wei, Pengda Ma, Zheyong Xue, Rui Ma, Kirsi Marja Oksman-Caldentey, Heiko Rischer (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Veratrum (Melanthiaceae; Liliales) is a genus of perennial herbs known for the production of unique bioactive steroidal alkaloids. However, the biosynthesis of these compounds is incompletely understood because many of the downstream enzymatic steps have yet to be resolved. RNA-Seq is a powerful method that can be used to identify candidate genes involved in metabolic pathways by comparing the transcriptomes of metabolically active tissues to controls lacking the pathway of interest. The root and leaf transcriptomes of wild Veratrum maackii and Veratrum nigrum plants were sequenced and 437,820 clean reads were assembled into 203,912 unigenes, 47.67% of which were annotated. We identified 235 differentially expressed unigenes potentially involved in the synthesis of steroidal alkaloids. Twenty unigenes, including new candidate cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and transcription factors, were selected for validation by quantitative real-time PCR. Most candidate genes were expressed at higher levels in roots than leaves but showed a consistent profile across both species. Among the 20 unigenes putatively involved in the synthesis of steroidal alkaloids, 14 were already known. We identified three new CYP450 candidates (CYP76A2, CYP76B6 and CYP76AH1) and three new transcription factor candidates (ERF1A, bHLH13 and bHLH66). We propose that ERF1A, CYP90G1-1 and CYP76AH1 are specifically involved in the key steps of steroidal alkaloid biosynthesis in V. maackii roots. Our data represent the first cross-species analysis of steroidal alkaloid biosynthesis in the genus Veratrum and indicate that the metabolic properties of V. maackii and V. nigrum are broadly conserved despite their distinct alkaloid profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8198
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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