Caspases In Plants: Metacaspase Gene Family In Plant Stress Responses
D. Fagundes, B. Bohn, Caroline Cabreira, Fábio Leipelt, N. Dias, M. H. Bodanese-Zanettini, Alexandro Cagliari
Published 2015 · Biology, Medicine
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Programmed cell death (PCD) is an ordered cell suicide that removes unwanted or damaged cells, playing a role in defense to environmental stresses and pathogen invasion. PCD is component of the life cycle of plants, occurring throughout development from embryogenesis to the death. Metacaspases are cysteine proteases present in plants, fungi, and protists. In certain plant–pathogen interactions, the PCD seems to be mediated by metacaspases. We adopted a comparative genomic approach to identify genes coding for the metacaspases in Viridiplantae. We observed that the metacaspase was divided into types I and II, based on their protein structure. The type I has a metacaspase domain at the C-terminus region, presenting or not a zinc finger motif in the N-terminus region and a prodomain rich in proline. Metacaspase type II does not feature the prodomain and the zinc finger, but has a linker between caspase-like catalytic domains of 20 kDa (p20) and 10 kDa (p10). A high conservation was observed in the zinc finger domain (type I proteins) and in p20 and p10 subunits (types I and II proteins). The phylogeny showed that the metacaspases are divided into three principal groups: type I with and without zinc finger domain and type II metacaspases. The algae and moss are presented as outgroup, suggesting that these three classes of metacaspases originated in the early stages of Viridiplantae, being the absence of the zinc finger domain the ancient condition. The study of metacaspase can clarify their assignment and involvement in plant PCD mechanisms.
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