Exploring the alpha-gliadin locus: the 33-mer peptide with six overlapping coeliac disease epitopes in Triticum aestivum is derived from a subgroup of Aegilops tauschii.Plant J. 2021 04; 106(1):86-94.PJ
Most alpha-gliadin genes of the Gli-D2 locus on the D genome of hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) encode for proteins with epitopes that can trigger coeliac disease (CD), and several contain a 33-mer peptide with six partly overlapping copies of three epitopes, which is regarded as a remarkably potent T-cell stimulator. To increase genetic diversity in the D genome, synthetic hexaploid wheat lines are being made by hybridising accessions of Triticum turgidum (AB genome) and Aegilops tauschii (the progenitor of the D genome). The diversity of alpha-gliadins in A. tauschii has not been studied extensively. We analysed the alpha-gliadin transcriptome of 51 A. tauschii accessions representative of the diversity in A. tauschii. We extracted RNA from developing seeds and performed 454 amplicon sequencing of the first part of the alpha-gliadin genes. The expression profile of allelic variants of the alpha-gliadins was different between accessions, and also between accessions of the Western and Eastern clades of A. tauschii. Generally, both clades expressed many allelic variants not found in bread wheat. In contrast to earlier studies, we detected the 33-mer peptide in some A. tauschii accessions, indicating that it was introduced along with the D genome into bread wheat. In these accessions, transcripts with the 33-mer peptide were present at lower frequencies than in bread wheat varieties. In most A. tauschii accessions, however, the alpha-gliadins do not contain the epitope, and this may be exploited, through synthetic hexaploid wheats, to breed bread wheat varieties with fewer or no coeliac disease epitopes.