, Volume 248, Issue 3, pp 715–727 | Cite as

Evolutionarily conserved function of the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.) CER2-LIKE family in very-long-chain fatty acid elongation

  • Xianpeng Yang
  • Zhouya Wang
  • Tao Feng
  • Juanjuan Li
  • Longyu Huang
  • Baiming Yang
  • Huayan Zhao
  • Matthew A. Jenks
  • Pingfang YangEmail author
  • Shiyou LüEmail author
Original Article


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.


Arabidopsis thaliana CER2-LIKE proteins Cuticular wax Evolution Fatty acid elongase Localization Nelumbo nucifera NnCER2 Phylogeny 



Fatty acid elongase


Fatty acid methyl ester


3-Ketoacyl-CoA synthase


Very-long-chain fatty acid



We thank Dr. Ljerka Kunst (University of British Columbia, Canada) for providing p42X yeast expressing vectors; Dr. Tao Feng for phylogenetic analysis and Chang Du (Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences) assistance of scanning electron microscopy and confocal imaging. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 31570186 and 31770377).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1155 kb)
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425_2018_2934_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (34 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 34 kb)
425_2018_2934_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (9 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Specialty Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Changchun Guoxin Modern Agricultural Science and Technology Development Co., Ltd.ChangchunChina
  3. 3.Applied Biotechnology CenterWuhan Institute of BioengineeringWuhanChina
  4. 4.Division of Plant and Soil SciencesWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  5. 5.Sino-Africa Joint Research CenterChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina

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