Genome-wide association studies with proteomics data reveal genes important for synthesis, transport and packaging of globulins in legume seeds


  • Le Signor Christine
  • Aime Delphine
  • Bordat Amandine
  • Belghazi Maya
  • Labas Valérie
  • Gouzy Jerome
  • Young Nevin D.
  • Prosperi Jean-Marie
  • Leprince Olivier
  • Thompson Richard
  • Buitink Julia
  • Burstin Judith
  • Gallardo-Guerrero Karine


  • Pisum sativum pea
  • Medicago truncatula
  • Genome-wide association studies GWAS
  • Globulins
  • Legumes
  • Protein quantity loci PQL
  • Seed proteome
  • Vegetable


Improving nutritional seed quality is an important challenge in grain legume breeding. However, the genes controlling the differential accumulation of globulins, which are major contributors to seed nutritional value in legumes, remain largely unknown. We combined a search for protein quantity loci with genome-wide association studies on the abundance of 7S and 11S globulins in seeds of the model legume species Medicago truncatula. Identified genomic regions and genes carrying polymorphisms linked to globulin variations were then cross-compared with pea (Pisum sativum), leading to the identification of candidate genes for the regulation of globulin abundance in this crop. Key candidates identified include genes involved in transcription, chromatin remodeling, post-translational modifications, transport and targeting of proteins to storage vacuoles. Inference of a gene coexpression network of 12 candidate transcription factors and globulin genes revealed the transcription factor ABA-insensitive 5 (ABI5) as a highly connected hub. Characterization of loss-of-function abi5 mutants in pea uncovered a role for ABI5 in controlling the relative abundance of vicilin, a sulfur-poor 7S globulin, in pea seeds. This demonstrates the feasibility of using genome-wide association studies in M. truncatula to reveal genes that can be modulated to improve seed nutritional value.

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