Genomic clones encoding two isozymes of aspartate aminotransferase (AAT) were isolated from an alfalfa genomic library and their DNA sequences were determined. The AAT1 gene contains 12 exons that encode a cytosolic protein expressed at similar levels in roots, stems and nodules. In nodules, the amount of AAT1 mRNA was similar at all stages of development, and was slightly reduced in nodules incapable of fixing nitrogen. The AAT1 mRNA is polyadenylated at multiple sites differing by more than 250 bp. The AAT2 gene contains 11 exons, with 5 introns located in positions identical to those found in animal AAT genes, and encodes a plastid-localized isozyme. The AAT2 mRNA is polyadenylated at a very limited range of sites. The transit peptide of AAT2 is encoded by the first two and part of the third exon. AAT2 mRNA is much more abundant in nodules than in other organs, and increases dramatically during the course of nodule development. Unlike AAT1, expression of AAT2 is significantly reduced in nodules incapable of fixing nitrogen. Phylogenetic analysis of deduced AAT proteins revealed 4 separate but related groups of AAT proteins; the animal cytosolic AATs, the plant cytosolic AATs, the plant plastid AATs, and the mitochondrial AATs.
- aspartate aminotransferase
- gene structure