Cite this paper:
Yujia YANG, Xiaoni LI, Lina SUN. Triterpenoid saponin biosynthesis genes and their expression patterns during the development of sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus[J]. Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, 2021, 39(6): 2295-2308

Triterpenoid saponin biosynthesis genes and their expression patterns during the development of sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus

Yujia YANG1, Xiaoni LI2, Lina SUN2
1 Laboratory for Evolution and Development, Institute of Evolution and Marine Biodiversity, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266003, China;
2 CAS Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, China
Sea cucumbers are echinoderm species with a leathery skin and an elongated body. Natural compounds, including saponins, have been previously isolated from sea cucumber. The majority of saponins derived from this organism typically belong to the triterpene glycosides, which exhibit various biological effects (e.g., antifungal, cytotoxic, hemolytic, and cytostatic immunomodulatory activities). In the present study, 30 saponin biosynthesis enzymes, namely 2 AACTs, 2 FPSs, 2 HMGSs, 2 OSCs, 1 SS, 2 SEs, and 19 UGTs, were found in the genome of sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus. Compared with upstream saponin biosynthesis enzymes (i.e., AACTs, FPSs, HMGSs, OSCs, and SSs), the downstream saponin biosynthesis enzymes (SEs and UGTs) shared lower amino acid sequence similarity with the corresponding genes in other echinoderms. It was proposed that the enzyme structures comprised both α-helices and β-sheets. Notably, only a low percentage of β-sheets were present in FPSs, OSCs, and SS. The saponin biosynthesis enzymes showed dynamic expression patterns during five critical developmental stages of A. japonicus (fertilized oocytes, blastula, gastrula, doliolaria, and penractula). The present study involved elucidation of putative saponin biosynthesis pathways in sea cucumber and provides a valuable platform for further investigation of saponin biosynthesis in echinoderms.
Key words:    triterpene saponin biosynthesis|sea cucumber|enzyme|expression|development   
Received: 2020-05-31   Revised: 2020-07-25
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