The cellulose synthase (CESA) gene superfamily of the moss Physcomitrella patens

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The CESA gene superfamily of Arabidopsis and other seed plants comprises the CESA family, which encodes the catalytic subunits of cellulose synthase, and eight families of CESA-like (CSL) genes whose functions are largely unknown. The CSL genes have been proposed to encode processive β-glycosyl transferases that synthesize noncellulosic cell wall polysaccharides. BLAST searches of EST and shotgun genomic sequences from the moss Physcomitrella patens (Hedw.) B.S.G. were used to identify genes with high similarity to vascular plant CESAs, CSLAs, CSLCs, and CSLDs. However, searches using Arabidopsis CSLBs, CSLEs, and CSLGs or rice CSLFs or CSLHs as queries identified no additional CESA superfamily members in P. patens, indicating that this moss lacks representatives of these families. Intron insertion sites are highly conserved between Arabidopsis and P. patens in all four shared gene families. However, phylogenetic analysis strongly supports independent diversification of the shared families in mosses and vascular plants. The lack of orthologs of vascular plant CESAs in the P. patens genome indicates that the divergence of mosses and vascular plants predated divergence and specialization of CESAs for primary and secondary cell wall syntheses and for distinct roles within the rosette terminal complexes. In contrast to Arabidopsis, the CSLD family is highly represented among P. patens ESTs. This is consistent with the proposed function of CSLDs in tip growth and the central role of tip growth in the development of the moss protonema. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Plant Molecular Biology