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The WRKY transcription factor superfamily: its origin in eukaryotes and expansion in plants

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-5-1

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We searched all publicly available sequence data for WRKY genes. A single copy of the WRKY gene encoding two WRKY domains was identified from Giardia lamblia, a primitive eukaryote, Dictyostelium discoideum, a slime mold closely related to the lineage of animals and fungi, and the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, an early branching of plants. This ancestral WRKY gene seems to have duplicated many times during the evolution of plants, resulting in a large family in evolutionarily advanced flowering plants. In rice, the WRKY gene family consists of over 100 members. Analyses suggest that the C-terminal domain of the two-WRKY-domain encoding gene appears to be the ancestor of the single-WRKY-domain encoding genes, and that the WRKY domains may be phylogenetically classified into five groups. We propose a model to explain the WRKY family's origin in eukaryotes and expansion in plants.WRKY genes seem to have originated in early eukaryotes and greatly expanded in plants. The elucidation of the evolution and duplicative expansion of the WRKY genes should provide valuable information on their functions.Transcriptional control is a major mechanism whereby a cell or organism regulates its gene expression. Sequence-specific DNA-binding transcription regulators, one class of transcription factors [1], play an essential role in modulating the rate of transcription of specific target genes. In this way, they direct the temporal and spatial expressions necessary for normal development and proper response to physiological or environmental stimuli. Comparative genome analysis reveals that genes for transcription regulators are abundantly present in plant and animal genomes, and the evolution and diversity of eukaryotes seem to be related to the expansion of lineage-specific transcription regulator families [2].WRKY proteins are recently identified transcriptional regulators comprising a large gene family [3]. The first cDNA encoding a WRKY protein, SPF1, was cloned from sweet p


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