Two genes encoding for late embryogenesis abundant proteins (LEAs) are expressed in encysted diapausing embryos (or resting eggs) of rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis O.F. Müller) and females forming them. The two genes (bpa-leaa and bpa-leab) share approximately 50% of their nucleotides sequence, and bpa-leaa is more than twofold longer than bpa-leab. The deduced amino acid sequences show high abundance of alanine, glycine, lysine, and glutamic acid; a hydropathy index of lower than one; and a relatively high (81–82%) predicted probability of forming alpha-helices in their secondary structure, all of which are characteristic features of LEAs. The predicted molecular masses of bpa-LEAA (∼67 kDa) and bpa-LEAB (∼27 kDa) are similar to the molecular mass determined by Western-blot analyses, suggesting a low probability of posttranslational modifications. In silico analysis reveals that the two LEAs resemble group 3 LEAs based on the repeats for 11mer motifs, although they also display several putative amino acids typical of the 20mer motif of group 1 LEAs. The rotifer LEAs do not contain a predicted target sequence and are more likely localized in the cytosol. LEAs were expressed in resting eggs and females producing them, but not in other female forms or males. LEA transcripts and proteins are degraded during hatching, suggesting that LEAs are developmentally programmed during resting egg formation and hatching. LEAs probably equip the resting eggs to withstand desiccation if that occurs during dormancy. The present study expands our knowledge about the biological pathways associated with formation of rotifer resting eggs and also demonstrates the occurrence of LEAs in dormant, nondesiccated, encysted animal embryos.
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Vol. 82 • No. 4