Histone acetylation is a vital mechanism for the activation of chromatin and the corresponding expression of genes competing the action of histone deacetylation and leading to chromatin inactivation. Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) comprise a superfamily including the GNAT/MYST, CBP and TF(II)250 families. Histone acetyltransferases have been well studied in Arabidopsis but information from agronomically important crops is limited. In the present work three full-length sequences encoding members of the GNAT/MYST family, namely HvMYST, HvELP3 and HvGCN5, respectively, were isolated and characterized from barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a crop of high economic value. Expression analysis of the barley GNAT/MYST genes revealed significant quantitative differences in different seed developmental stages and between cultivars with varying seed size and weight, suggesting an association of these genes with barley seed development. Furthermore, all three HvGNAT/MYST genes were inducible by the stress-related phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) involved in seed maturation, dormancy and germination, implying a possible regulation of these genes by ABA, during barley seed development, germination and stress response.
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