Scientific reports

Functional characterization of the late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) protein gene family from Pinus tabuliformis (Pinaceae) in Escherichia coli.

PMID 26781930


Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are a large and highly diverse gene family present in a wide range of plant species. LEAs are proposed to play a role in various stress tolerance responses. Our study represents the first-ever survey of LEA proteins and their encoding genes in a widely distributed pine (Pinus tabuliformis) in China. Twenty-three LEA genes were identified from the P. tabuliformis belonging to seven groups. Proteins with repeated motifs are an important feature specific to LEA groups. Ten of 23 pine LEA genes were selectively expressed in specific tissues, and showed expression divergence within each group. In addition, we selected 13 genes representing each group and introduced theses genes into Escherichia coli to assess the protective function of PtaLEA under heat and salt stresses. Compared with control cells, the E. coli cells expressing PtaLEA fusion protein exhibited enhanced salt and heat resistance and viability, indicating the protein may play a protective role in cells under stress conditions. Furthermore, among these enhanced tolerance genes, a certain extent of function divergence appeared within a gene group as well as between gene groups, suggesting potential functional diversity of this gene family in conifers.