Background: The presence of tandem amino acid repeats (AARs) is one of the signatures of eukaryotic proteins. AARs were thought to be frequently involved in bio-molecular interactions. Comprehensive studies that primarily focused on metazoan AARs have suggested that AARs are evolving rapidly and are highly variable among species. However, there is still controversy over causal factors of this inter-species variation. In this work, we attempted to investigate this topic mainly by comparing AARs in orthologous proteins from ten angiosperm genomes.
Results: Angiosperm AAR content is positively correlated with the GC content of the protein coding sequence. However, based on observations from fungal AARs and insect AARs, we argue that the applicability of this kind of correlation is limited by AAR residue composition and species' life history traits. Angiosperm AARs also tend to be fast evolving and structurally disordered, supporting the results of comprehensive analyses of metazoans. The functions of conserved long AARs are summarized. Finally, we propose that the rapid mRNA decay rate, alternative splicing and tissue specificity are regulatory processes that are associated with angiosperm proteins harboring AARs.
Conclusions: Our investigation suggests that GC content is a predictor of AAR content in the protein coding sequence under certain conditions. Although angiosperm AARs lack conservation and 3D structure, a fraction of the proteins that contain AARs may be functionally important and are under extensive regulation in plant cells.