||Yang Xianpeng, Wang Zhouya, Feng Tao, Li Juanjuan, Huang Longyu, Yang Baiming, Zhao Huayan, Jenks Matthew, Yang Pingfang, Lü Shiyou*
Main conclusion Identification of NnCER2 and NnCER2-LIKE from Nelumbo nucifera, which are required for the very-long-chain fatty acid elongation, provides new evidence that CER2 proteins are evolutionarily conserved across the eudicots.
CER2-LIKE family proteins have been described as core components of the fatty acid elongase complex in Arabidopsis, maize, and rice, having specific function in synthesis of the C30 to C34 fatty acyl-CoA precursors of cuticular waxes. Little is known about the functional conservation in this gene family across species. In this study, two CER2-LIKE family proteins, NnCER2 and NnCER2-LIKE, were characterized from sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), which is an ancient basal eudicot. The transcriptional expression of NnCER2 and NnCER2-LIKE was found in floating leaf blades, emergent petioles and vertical leaves, petals, and anthers. The NnCER2 and NnCER2-LIKE proteins were localized to the endoplasmic reticulum and nucleus. Overexpressing NnCER2 and NnCER2-LIKE in Arabidopsis led to alteration of cuticle wax structure in inflorescence stems, and this was associated with elevated 30, 32, and 34 carbon length wax compounds, and their derivatives. The different substrate specificities of NnCER2 and NnCER2-LIKE were explored using co-expression with AtCER6 in yeast cells. These findings provide clear evidence that the function of CER2 family proteins in producing VLCFAs is highly conserved across the eudicots.