The spectrum of major seed storage genes and proteins in oats (Avena sativa)

PLoS One. 2014 Jul 23;9(7):e83569. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083569. eCollection 2014.


Background: The oat seed storage proteins are mainly composed of two classes: the globulins and avenins. Among the major cereals, the globulins are the major seed protein class in rice and oats, and along with the higher protein content of oats is the basis for the relative higher nutrition content in oats compared to the other cereals. The second major class of oat seed proteins is the avenins; also classified as prolamins - seed proteins high in proline and glutamine amino acids. The prolamins are associated with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. In spite of their importance, neither the oat globulins nor the avenins have been completely analyzed and described for any single germplasm.

Results: Using available EST resources for a single hexaploid oat cultivar, the spectrum of avenin and globulin sequences are described for the gene coding regions and the derived protein sequences. The nine unique avenin sequences are suggested to be divided into 3-4 distinct subclasses distributed in the hexaploid genome. The globulins from the same germplasm include 24 distinct sequences. Variation in globulin size results mainly from a glutamine-rich domain, similar to as in the avenins, and to variation in the C-terminal sequence domain. Two globulin genes have premature stop codons that shorten the resulting polypeptides by 9 and 17 amino acids, and eight of the globulin sequences form a branch of the globulins not previously reported.

Conclusions: A more complete description of the major oat seed proteins should allow a more thorough analysis of their contributions to those oat seed characteristics related to nutritional value, evolutionary history, and celiac disease association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Avena / genetics*
  • Avena / metabolism
  • Globulins / genetics*
  • Globulins / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Prolamins / genetics
  • Prolamins / metabolism
  • Seed Storage Proteins / genetics*
  • Seed Storage Proteins / metabolism
  • Seeds / metabolism*


  • Globulins
  • Prolamins
  • Seed Storage Proteins

Grants and funding

This work was supported by USDA-ARS project 5325-21000-014. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.