Bcl-2-associated athanogene (BAG), a group of proteins evolutionarily conserved and functioned as co-chaperones in plants and animals, is involved in various cell activities and diverse physiological processes. However, the biological functions of this gene family in rice are largely unknown. In this study, we identified a total of six BAG members in rice. These genes were classified into two groups, OsBAG1, -2, -3, and -4 are in group I with a conserved ubiquitin-like structure and OsBAG5 and -6 are in group Ⅱ with a calmodulin-binding domain, in addition to a common BAG domain. The BAG genes exhibited diverse expression patterns, with OsBAG4 showing the highest expression level, followed by OsBAG1 and OsBAG3, and OsBAG6 preferentially expressed in the panicle, endosperm, and calli. The co-expression analysis and the hierarchical cluster analysis indicated that the OsBAG1 and OsBAG3 were co-expressed with primary cell wall-biosynthesizing genes, OsBAG4 was co-expressed with phytohormone and transcriptional factors, and OsBAG6 was co-expressed with disease and shock-associated genes. β-glucuronidase (GUS) staining further indicated that OsBAG3 is mainly involved in primary young tissues under both primary and secondary growth. In addition, the expression of the BAG genes under brown planthopper (BPH) feeding, N, P, and K deficiency, heat, drought and plant hormones treatments was investigated. Our results clearly showed that OsBAGs are multifunctional molecules as inferred by their protein structures, subcellular localizations, and expression profiles. BAGs in group I are mainly involved in plant development, whereas BAGs in group II are reactive in gene regulations and stress responses. Our results provide a solid basis for the further elucidation of the biological functions of plant BAG genes.
Keywords: BAG; cell wall; cellulose synthase; rice.