Cardosin A and cardosin B are two aspartic proteases mainly found in the pistils of cardoon Cynara cardunculus L., whose flowers are traditionally used in several Mediterranean countries in the manufacture of ewe's cheese. We have been characterizing cardosins at the biochemical, structural and molecular levels. In this study, we show that the cardoon aspartic proteases are encoded by a multigene family. The genes for cardosin A and cardosin B, as well as those for two new cardoon aspartic proteases, designated cardosin C and cardosin D, were characterized, and their expression in C. cardunculus L. was analyzed by RT-PCR. Together with cardosins, a partial clone of the cyprosin B gene was isolated, revealing that cardosin and cyprosin genes coexist in the genome of the same plant. As a first approach to understanding what dictates the flower-specific pattern of cardosin genes, the respective gene 5′ regulatory sequences were fused with the reporter β-glucuronidase and introduced into Arabidopsis thaliana. A subsequent deletion analysis of the promoter region of the cardosin A gene allowed the identification of a region of approximately 500 bp essential for gene expression in transgenic flowers. Additionally, the relevance of the leader intron of the cardosin A and B genes for gene expression was evaluated. Our data showed that the leader intron is essential for cardosin B gene expression in A. thaliana. In silico analysis revealed the presence of potential regulatory motifs that lay within the aforementioned regions and therefore might be important in the regulation of cardosin expression.
- Aspartic proteases
- Leader intron