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, 138 (3), 849-54

Molecular Evolution of the Plant R Regulatory Gene Family

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Molecular Evolution of the Plant R Regulatory Gene Family

M D Purugganan et al. Genetics.

Abstract

Anthocyanin pigmentation patterns in different plant species are controlled in part by members of the myc-like R regulatory gene family. We have examined the molecular evolution of this gene family in seven plant species. Three regions of the R protein show sequence conservation between monocot and dicot R genes. These regions encode the basic helix-loop-helix domain, as well as conserved N-terminal and C-terminal domains; mean replacement rates for these conserved regions are 1.02 x 10(-9) nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions per site per year. More than one-half of the protein, however, is diverging rapidly, with nonsynonymous substitution rates of 4.08 x 10(-9) substitutions per site per year. Detailed analysis of R homologs within the grasses (Poaceae) confirm that these variable regions are indeed evolving faster than the flanking conserved domains. Both nucleotide substitutions and small insertion/deletions contribute to the diversification of the variable regions within these regulatory genes. These results demonstrate that large tracts of sequence in these regulatory loci are evolving at a fairly rapid rate.

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