Summary Modern land plants arose from a green algae-like ancestor c. 480 million years ago. While several novel morphological features were critical for survival in the aerial environment, physiological innovation undoubtedly played a key role in the colonization of terrestrial habitats. Recently, actinoporin genes, a small group of pore-forming toxins from sea anemones, have been found in the bryophyte and lycophyte lineages of land plants where they are upregulated in water-stressed tissues. The bryoporin gene in the moss Physcomitrella patens (PpBP) was functionally characterized by RNA blot analyses and overexpression in P. patens. In order to examine functional homology between PpBP and sea anemone actinoporins, the recombinant PpBP was subjected to hemolytic analysis of pig blood cells, which is one of the specific activities of actinoporins. PpBP was upregulated by various abiotic stresses, in particular most strongly by dehydration stress. Overexpression of the bryoporin gene heightens drought tolerance in P. patens significantly. In addition, PpBP shared the highest structural homology with actinoporins in a three-dimensional structural database and showed hemolytic activity. These results suggest that this phylogenetic distribution may have resulted from an ancient horizontal gene transfer and actinoporins may have played an important role in early land plants.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science