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WRKY transcription factors in legumes

By Hui Song, Weihong Sun, Guofeng Yang and Juan Sun


Abstract Background WRKY transcription factors, so named because of the WRKYGQK heptapeptide at the N-terminal end, are widely distributed in plants and play an important role in physiological changes and response to biotic and abiotic stressors. Many previous studies have focused on the evolution of WRKY transcription factors in a given plant; however, little is known about WRKY evolution in legumes. The gene expression pattern of duplicated WRKY transcription factors remains unclear. Results We first identified the WRKY proteins in 12 legumes. We found that the WRKYGQK heptapeptide tended to mutate into WRKYGKK. The Q site in WRKYGQK preferentially mutated, while W, K, and Y were conserved. The phylogenetic tree shows that the WRKY proteins in legumes have multiple origins, especially group IIc. For example, WRKY64 from Lupinus angustifolius (LaWRKY64) contains three WRKY domains, of which the first two clustered together in the N-terminal WRKY domain of the group I WRKY protein, and the third WRKY domain grouped in the C-terminal WRKY domain of the group I WRKY protein. Orthologous WRKY genes have a faster evolutionary rate and are subject to constrained selective pressure, unlike paralogous WRKY genes. Different gene features were observed between duplicated WRKY genes and singleton WRKY genes. Duplicated Glycine max WRKY genes with similar gene features have gene expression divergence. Conclusions We analyzed the WRKY number and type in 12 legumes, concluding that the WRKY proteins have multiple origins. A novel WRKY protein, LaWRKY64, was found in L. angustifolius. The first two WRKY domains of LaWRKY64 have the same origin. The orthologous and paralogous WRKY proteins have different evolutionary rates. Duplicated WRKY genes have gene expression divergence under normal growth conditions in G. max. These results provide insight into understanding WRKY evolution and expression

Topics: Evolutionary rate, Gene feature, Legume, Ortholog, Paralog, Phylogenetic relationship, Botany, QK1-989
Publisher: BMC
Year: 2018
DOI identifier: 10.1186/s12870-018-1467-2
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