A comprehensive analysis of microProteins reveals their potentially widespread mechanism of transcriptional regulation

Plant Physiol. 2014 May;165(1):149-59. doi: 10.1104/pp.114.235903. Epub 2014 Mar 10.


Truncated transcription factor-like proteins called microProteins (miPs) can modulate transcription factor activities, thereby increasing transcriptional regulatory complexity. To understand their prevalence, evolution, and function, we predicted over 400 genes that encode putative miPs from Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) using a bioinformatics pipeline and validated two novel miPs involved in flowering time and response to abiotic and biotic stress. We provide an evolutionary perspective for a class of miPs targeting homeodomain transcription factors in plants and metazoans. We identify domain loss as one mechanism of miP evolution and suggest the possible roles of miPs on the evolution of their target transcription factors. Overall, we reveal a prominent layer of transcriptional regulation by miPs, show pervasiveness of such proteins both within and across genomes, and provide a framework for studying their function and evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / immunology
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Disease Resistance / immunology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Diseases / immunology
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Transcription Factors