Diacylglycerol kinase (DGK) is a pivotal enzyme that phosphorylates diacylglycerol (DAG) to form phosphatidic acid (PA). The production of PA from phospholipase D (PLD) and the coupled phospholipase C (PLC)/DGK route is a critical signaling process in animal and plant cells. Next to PLD, DGK is the second most important generator of PA in biotic and abiotic stress responses. We identified 8 DGK members within the apple genome and all of their putative proteins contain one DGK catalytic domain and one DGK accessory domain. Four coding sequences were confirmed by cloning from Malus prunifolia. Phylogenetic and gene structure analyses showed that the apple DGK genes could be assigned to Clusters I, II, or III. Expression analysis of 6 of them revealed that their transcript levels were highest in stems. Some apple DGK genes were also significantly up-regulated in response to salt and drought stresses. This suggested their possible roles in plant defenses against environmental challenges. As a first step toward genome-wide analyses of the DGK genes in woody plants, our results imply that apple DGK genes are involved in the signaling of stress responses. These findings will contribute to further functional dissection of this gene family.
Keywords: Abiotic stress; Apple; Diacylglycerol kinase; Gene family.
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