Autophagy is an indispensable biological process and plays crucial roles in plant growth and plant responses to both biotic and abiotic stresses. This study systematically identified autophagy-related proteins (ATGs) in wheat and its diploid and tetraploid progenitors and investigated their genomic organization, structure characteristics, expression patterns, genetic variation, and regulation network. We identified a total of 77, 51, 29, and 30 ATGs in wheat, wild emmer, T. urartu and A. tauschii, respectively, and grouped them into 19 subfamilies. We found that these autophagy-related genes (ATGs) suffered various degrees of selection during the wheat’s domestication and breeding processes. The genetic variations in the promoter region of Ta2A_ATG8a were associated with differences in seed size, which might be artificially selected for during the domestication process of tetraploid wheat. Overexpression of TaVAMP727 improved the cold, drought, and salt stresses resistance of the transgenic Arabidopsis and wheat. It also promoted wheat heading by regulating the expression of most ATGs. Our findings demonstrate how ATGs regulate wheat plant development and improve abiotic stress resistance. The results presented here provide the basis for wheat breeding programs for selecting varieties of higher yield which are capable of growing in colder, drier, and saltier areas.
The SPG7 gene encodes the paraplegin protein, an inner mitochondrial membrane—localized protease. It was initially linked to pure and complicated hereditary spastic paraplegia with cerebellar atrophy, and now represents a frequent cause of undiagnosed cerebellar ataxia and spastic ataxia. We hereby report the molecular characterization and the clinical features of a large Cypriot family with five affected individuals presenting with spastic ataxia in an autosomal recessive transmission mode, due to a novel SPG7 homozygous missense variant. Detailed clinical histories of the patients were obtained, followed by neurological and neurophysiological examinations. Whole exome sequencing (WES) of the proband, in silico gene panel analysis, variant filtering and family segregation analysis of the candidate variants with Sanger sequencing were performed. RNA and protein expression as well as in vitro protein localization studies and mitochondria morphology evaluation were carried out towards functional characterization of the identified variant. The patients presented with typical spastic ataxia features while some intrafamilial phenotypic variation was noted. WES analysis revealed a novel homozygous missense variant in the SPG7 gene (c.1763C > T, p. Thr588Met), characterized as pathogenic by more than 20 in silico prediction tools. Functional studies showed that the variant does not affect neither the RNA or protein expression, nor the protein localization. However, aberrant mitochondrial morphology has been observed thus indicating mitochondrial dysfunction and further demonstrating the pathogenicity of the identified variant. Our study is the first report of an SPG7 pathogenic variant in the Cypriot population and broadens the spectrum of SPG7 pathogenic variants.