Serine palmitoyltransferase and ceramide kinase in embryo development of loblolly pine
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Using the known sequences for serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) and ceramide kinase (CERK) from Arabidopsis, candidates for the corresponding genes in Loblolly pine were cloned and examined during embryogenesis. The cloned two cDNA sequences from Loblolly pine, which has similarity of 81% and 88% respectively to two subunits of SPT1 and SPT2 in Arabidopsis, were presumed as the Loblolly pine SPT1 and SPT2 (Pt-SPT1 and Pt-SPT2). A few different versions of Pt-SPT1 mRNAs (2223 nts, 756 nts, 822 nts, and 754 nts respectively), most likely the alternative splicing results, were found. Three of these mRNAs are capable of encoding proteins. The long version (2223 nts) encodes a protein with 484 amino acids (Pt-SPT1); two short versions (822 nts, 756 nts) encode a 90 a.a. protein. Another cDNA sequence of 2396 nts encodes a protein of 493 a.a. (Pt-SPT2). Both predicted Pt-SPT1 and Pt-SPT2 proteins possess highly conserved serine palmitoyltransferase functional domains (E value 5.7e-61). Their expression patterns are different between somatic and zygotic embryogenesis. Two different versions of mRNAs, with 2786 nts (long), and 2320 nts (short) respectively, of ceramide kinases in Loblolly pine (Pt-CERKs) have been cloned. The long version encodes a protein with 721 a.a.; the short version with 560 a.a. The expression patterns for these two CERK mRNAs are different during embryo development. The long version is constitutively expressed, while the short one is only expressed in some stages with much lower expression level. Overexpression Pt-CERKL, Pt-CERKS, and Pt-CERKF in E.coli and function analysis in vitro show that all Pt-CERKs appear to have the same catalytic functions as their homologs in human and Arabidopsis, but with different efficiency. The catalytic efficiency was dramatically lower in the short Pt-CERK protein compared with the long Pt-CERK protein and Pt-CERKF. The membrane system is not necessary for the catalytic reactions of these three Pt-CERKs in vitro and Pt-CERKs were less dependent on the Ca2+ ions. Thus, these studies have provided the first information about SPT- and CERK- like proteins in loblolly pine, and open new avenues of investigation for the roles of sphingolipids in embryonic development.