iTRAQ Protein Profile Differential Analysis of Dormant and Germinated Grassbur Twin Seeds Reveals that Ribosomal Synthesis and Carbohydrate Metabolism Promote Germination Possibly Through the PI3K Pathway

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Grassbur is a destructive and invasive weed in pastures, and its burs can cause gastric damage to animals. The strong adaptability and reproductive potential of grassbur are partly due to a unique germination mechanism whereby twin seeds develop in a single bur: one seed germinates, but the other remains dormant. To investigate the molecular mechanism of seed germination in twin seeds, we used isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) to perform a dynamic proteomic analysis of germination and dormancy. A total of 1,984 proteins were identified, 161 of which were considered to be differentially accumulated. The differentially accumulated proteins comprised 102 up-regulated and 59 down-regulated proteins. These proteins were grouped into seven functional categories, ribosomal proteins being the predominant group. The authenticity and accuracy of the results were confirmed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and quantitative real-time reverse transcription–PCR (qPCR). A dynamic proteomic analysis revealed that ribosome synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism affect seed germination possibly through the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. As the PI3K pathway is generally activated by insulin, analyses of seeds treated with exogenous insulin by qPCR, ELISA and iTRAQ confirmed that the PI3K pathway can be activated, which suppresses dormancy and promotes germination in twin grassbur seeds. Together, these results show that the PI3K pathway may play roles in stimulating seed germination in grassbur by modulating ribosomal synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism.

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