Alfalfa heat shock genes are differentially expressed during somatic embryogenesis

János Györgyey*, Anton Gartner, Kinga Németh, Zoltán Magyar, Heribert Hirt, Erwin Heberle-Bors, Dénes Dudits

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


We have isolated two cDNA clones (Mshsp18-1; Mshsp18-2) from alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) which encode for small heat shock proteins (HSPs) belonging to the hsp17 subfamily. The predicted amino acid sequences of the two alfalfa proteins are 92% identical and a similar degree of homology (90%) can be detected between Mshsp 18-2 and the pea hsp 17. In comparison to various members of small HSPs from soybean amino acid sequence similarities of 80-86% were identified. The alfalfa HSPs share a homologous stretch of amino acids in the carboxy terminal region with hsp22, 23, 26 from Drosophila. This region contains the GVLTV motif which is characteristic of several members of small HSPs. At room temperature alfalfa hsp 18 mRNAs were not detectable in root and leaf tissues but northern analysis showed a low level of expression in microcallus suspension (MCS). The transcription of Mshsp 18 genes is induced by elevated temperature, CdCl2 treatment and osmotic shock in cultured cells. In alfalfa somatic embryos derived from MCS a considerable amount of hsp 18 mRNA can be detected during the early embryogenic stages under normal culture conditions. The differential expression of these genes during embryo development suggests a specific functional role for HSPs in plant cells at the time of the developmental switch in vitro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1007
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Medicago sativa L.
  • heat shock protein (HSP)
  • somatic embryogenesis
  • stress response
  • tissue culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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