Background: Chinese jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) is one of the most important members in the Rhamnaceae family. The whole genome sequence and more than 30,000 proteins of Chinese jujube have been obtained in 2014. Mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades are universal signal transduction modules in plants, which is rapidly activated under various biotic and abiotic stresses. To date, there has been no comprehensive analysis of the MAPK and MAPKK gene family in Chinese jujube at the whole genome level.
Results: By performing a series of bioinformatics analysis, ten MAPK and five MAPKK genes were identified from the genome database of Chinese jujube, and then compared with the homologous genes from Arabidopsis. Phylogenetic analysis showed that ZjMAPKs was classified into four known groups, including A, B, C and D. ZjMAPKs contains five members of the TEY phosphorylation site and five members with the TDY motif. The ZjMAPKK family was subsequently divided into three groups, A, B and D. The gene structure, conserved motifs, functional annotation and chromosome distribution of ZjMAPKs and ZjMAPKKs were also predicted. ZjMAPKs and ZjMAPKKs were distributed on nine pseudo-chromosomes of Chinese jujube. Subsequently, expression analysis of ZjMAPK and ZjMAPKK genes using reverse transcription PCR and quantitative real-time PCR was carried out. The majority of ZjMAPK and ZjMAPKK genes were expressed in all tested organs/tissues with considerable differences in transcript levels indicating that they might be constitutively expressed. Moreover, ZjMKK5 was specific expressed in early development stage of jujube flower bud, indicating it plays some roles in reproductive organs development. The transcript expression of most ZjMAPK and ZjMAPKK genes was down-regulated in response to plant growth regulators, darkness treatment and phytoplasma infection.
Conclusions: We identified ten ZjMAPK and five ZjMAPKK genes from the genome database of Chinese jujube, the research results shown that ZjMPKs and ZjMKKs have the different expression patterns, indicating that they might play different roles in response to various treatments. The results provide valuable information for the further elucidation of physiological functions and biological roles of jujube MAPKs and MAPKKs.
Keywords: Bioinformatics analysis; Chinese jujube; Gene expression; MAPKKs; MAPKs.