Genome-wide analysis and characterization of molecular evolution of the HCT gene family in pear (Pyrus bretschneideri)

Ce Ma, Huping Zhang, Jiaming Li, Shutian Tao, Xin Qiao, Schuyler S. Korban, Shaoling Zhang, Jun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lignin is a major component of stone cells in pear fruit, which significantly affects fruit quality. Hydroxycinnamoyl CoA: shikimate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT), a recently discovered enzyme in plants, is an important gene that participates in the formation of lignin. Although HCT gene cloning and expression patterns have been studied in several species, including pear, there is still no extensive genome-wide bioinformatics analysis on the whole gene family, and the evolutionary history of HCT gene family is still unknown. A total of 82 HCT genes were identified in pear, most of which have one or two exons, and all with the conserved HXXXD motif and transferase domains. Based on the structural characteristics and phylogenetic analysis of these sequences, the HCT gene family genes could be classified into four main groups. Structural analysis also revealed that 25 % of HCT genes share a MYB binding site. Expansion of the HCT gene family mostly occurred before the divergence between Arabidopsis and Rosaceae, with whole-genome duplication or segmental duplication events playing the most important role in the expansion of the HCT gene family in pear. At the same time, purifying selection also played a critical role in the evolution of HCT genes. Five of the 82 HCT genes were verified by qRT-PCR to correspond to the pattern of stone cell formation during pear fruit development. The genome-wide identification, chromosome localization, gene structures, synteny, and expression analyses of pear HCT genes provide an overall insight into HCT gene family and their potential involvement in growth and development of stone cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalPlant Systematics and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Evolution
  • Gene expression
  • HCT gene family
  • Lignin synthesis
  • Pear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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