A Proposed Regulatory Mechanism of Ontogenetically Expressed DITAA-Containing Coconut Transcripts


Marni E. Cueno* and Rita P. Laude
Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS),
University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), College, Laguna 4031
corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Accumulation of medium-chain oils into the coconut endosperm has been shown to follow a temporal pattern of fatty acid gene expression. The mechanism by which these genes are regulated, however, has not been explored. Using 3’ RACE, we identified two coconut DITAA-containing transcripts (DCTs), appropriately labeled DCT1 and DCT2, and found both transcripts in the 5-6 and 6-7 month old (mo) coconut endosperms following an ontogenetic pattern. Comparison of both amplified transcripts from the 5-6 and 6-7 mo endosperms show 100% homology between DCT2 transcripts. Interestingly, 52 nt downstream of the DCT1 sequences prior to the poly(A) tail are missing in the DCT1-6mo transcript. Visual inspection for potential motifs shows the presence of CCGCC-like (DCT1-5mo and DCT1-6mo) and TGTG-like (DCT1-6mo only) motifs. Both motifs have been published to be known regulatory motifs in other species suggesting a probable similar function in coconut.



Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) has often been considered the “tree of life” due to its several end products used in food, structure materials, and decorative items (Banzon and Velasco 1982). Coconut is the major export crop of the Philippines due to its oil (Harries 1994) and, at the moment, it is either exported as copra or as virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is predominantly composed of lauric acids and the coconut’s lauric oil content commands a premium price in world markets (Banzon & Velasco 1982; Harries 1994), wherein, coconut (from the Philippines) and palm kernel (from Malaysia) are the major sources of lauric acid-rich vegetable oils with 48.2% and 50.9%, respectively (Banzon & Velasco 1982). Lauric oils represent about 6% (4.4 million metric tons) of the 72.7 million tons of the world’s oil and fats production, and 5.5% of the world’s total fats and oils consumption (Harries 1994).

It was previously suggested from the work of Villalobos et al. (2001) that coconut fatty acid synthesis follows an ontogenetic pattern of expression, however, it has never been proven to date. Moreover, as the solid endosperm . . . . . . . . .





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