Plant O-methyltransferases (OMTs) play important roles in secondary metabolism. Two clusters of genes coding for caffeic acid OMT (COMT) have been identified in the apple genome. Three genes from one cluster and two genes from another cluster were isolated. These five genes encoding COMT, designated Mdomt1-Mdomt5 (GenBank accession nos. DQ886018-DQ886022), were distinguished by a (CT)n microsatellite in the 5′-UTR and two transposon-like sequences present in the promoter region and intron 1, respectively. The transposon-like sequence in intron 1 unambiguously traced the five Mdomt genes in the apple to a common ancestor. The ancestor must have undergone an initial duplication generating two progenitors, and this was followed by further duplication of these progenitors resulting in the two clusters identified in this study. The distal regions of the transposon-like sequences in promoter regions of Mdomt genes are capable of forming palindromic hairpin-like structures. The hairpin formation is likely responsible for nucleotide sequence differences observed in the promoter regions of these genes as it plays a destabilizing role in eukaryotic chromosomes. In addition, the possible mechanism of amplification of Mdomt genes in the apple genome is also discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas