We have characterized the development of seeds in the model legume Lotus japonicus. Like soybean (Glycine max) and pea (Pisum sativum), Lotus develops straight seed pods and each pod contains approximately 20 seeds that reach maturity within 40 days. Histological sections show the characteristic three developmental phases of legume seeds and the presence of embryo, endosperm, and seed coat in desiccated seeds. Furthermore, protein, oil, starch, phytic acid, and ash contents were determined, and this indicates that the composition of mature Lotus seed is more similar to soybean than to pea. In a first attempt to determine the seed proteome, both a two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis approach and a gel-based liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry approach were used. Globulins were analyzed by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and five legumins, LLP1 to LLP5, and two convicilins, LCP1 and LCP2, were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization quadrupole/time-of-flight mass spectrometry. For two distinct developmental phases, seed filling and desiccation, a gel-based liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry approach was used, and 665 and 181 unique proteins corresponding to gene accession numbers were identified for the two phases, respectively. All of the proteome data, including the experimental data and mass spectrometry spectra peaks, were collected in a database that is available to the scientific community via a Web interface (http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/cgi-bin/lotus/db.cgi). This database establishes the basis for relating physiology, biochemistry, and regulation of seed development in Lotus. Together with a new Web interface (http://bioinfoserver.rsbs.anu.edu.au/utils/PathExpress4legumes/) collecting all protein identifications for Lotus, Medicago, and soybean seed proteomes, this database is a valuable resource for comparative seed proteomics and pathway analysis within and beyond the legume family.
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