De novo leaf and root transcriptome analysis to identify putative genes involved in triterpenoid saponins biosynthesis in Hedera helix L.

by Huapeng Sun, Fang Li, Zijian Xu, Mengli Sun, Hanqing Cong, Fei Qiao, Xiaohong Zhong

Hedera helix L. is an important traditional medicinal plant in Europe. The main active components are triterpenoid saponins, but none of the potential enzymes involved in triterpenoid saponins biosynthesis have been discovered and annotated. Here is reported the first study of global transcriptome analyses using the Illumina HiSeq 2500 platform for H. helix. In total, over 24 million clean reads were produced and 96,333 unigenes were assembled, with an average length of 1385 nt; more than 79,085 unigenes had at least one significant match to an existing gene model. Differentially Expressed Gene analysis identified 6,222 and 7,012 unigenes which were expressed either higher or lower in leaf samples when compared with roots. After functional annotation and classification, two pathways and 410 unigenes related to triterpenoid saponins biosynthesis were discovered. The accuracy of these de novo sequences was validated by RT-qPCR analysis and a RACE clone. These data will enrich our knowledge of triterpenoid saponin biosynthesis and provide a theoretical foundation for molecular research on H. helix.

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