Identification and Cloning of Differentially Expressed SOUL and ELIP Genes in Saffron Stigmas Using a Subtractive Hybridization Approach.


Using a subtractive hybridization approach, differentially expressed genes involved in the light response in saffron stigmas were identified. Twenty-two differentially expressed transcript-derived fragments were cloned and sequenced. Two of them were highly induced by light and had sequence similarity to early inducible proteins (ELIP) and SOUL heme-binding proteins. Using these sequences, we searched for other family members expressed in saffron stigma. ELIP and SOUL are represented by small gene families in saffron, with four and five members, respectively. The expression of these genes was analyzed during the development of the stigma and in light and dark conditions. ELIP transcripts were detected in all the developmental stages showing much higher expression levels in the developed stigmas of saffron and all were up-regulated by light but at different levels. By contrast, only one SOUL gene was up-regulated by light and was highly expressed in the stigma at anthesis. Both the ELIP and SOUL genes induced by light in saffron stigmas might be associated with the structural changes affecting the chromoplast of the stigma, as a result of light exposure, which promotes the development and increases the number of plastoglobules, specialized in the recruitment of specific proteins, which enables them to act in metabolite synthesis and disposal under changing environmental conditions and developmental stages.

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