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posted on 28.02.2018, 12:02 by Bipin Balan, Ana M. Ibáñez, Abhaya M. Dandekar, Tiziano Caruso, Federico Martinelli

A bioinformatic analysis of previously published RNA-Seq studies on Huanglongbing (HLB) response and tolerance in leaf tissues was performed. The aim was to identify genes commonly modulated between studies and genes, pathways and gene set categories strongly associated with this devastating Citrus disease. Bioinformatic analysis of expression data of four datasets present in NCBI provided 46–68 million reads with an alignment percentage of 72.95–86.76%. Only 16 HLB-regulated genes were commonly identified between the three leaf datasets. Among them were key genes encoding proteins involved in cell wall modification such as CESA8, pectinesterase, expansin8, expansin beta 3.1, and a pectate lyase. Fourteen HLB-regulated genes were in common between all four datasets. Gene set enrichment analysis showed some different gene categories affected by HLB disease. Although sucrose and starch metabolism was highly linked with disease symptoms, different genes were significantly regulated depending on leaf growth and infection stages and experimental conditions. Histone-related transcription factors were highly affected by HLB in the analyzed RNA-Seq datasets. HLB tolerance was linked with induction of proteins involved in detoxification. Protein–protein interaction (PPI) network analysis confirmed a possible role for heat shock proteins in curbing disease progression.