Genome-wide analysis of WOX gene family in rice, sorghum, maize, Arabidopsis and poplar

Xin Zhang, Jie Zong, Jianhua Liu, Jinyuan Yin, Dabing Zhang
Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 2010, 52 (11): 1016-26
WUSCHEL-related homeobox (WOX) genes form a large gene family specifically expressed in plants. They are known to play important roles in regulating the development of plant tissues and organs by determining cell fate. Recent available whole genome sequences allow us to do more comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the WOX genes in plants. In the present study, we identified 11 and 21 WOXs from sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and maize (Zea mays), respectively. The 72 WOX genes from rice (Oryza sativa), sorghum, maize, Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and poplar (Populus trichocarpa) were grouped into three well supported clades with nine subgroups according to the amino acid sequences of their homodomains. Their phylogenetic relationship was also supported by the observation of the motifs outside the homodomain. We observed the variation of duplication events among the nine sub-groups between monocots and eudicots, for instance, more gene duplication events of WOXs within subgroup A for monocots, while, less for dicots in this subgroup. Furthermore, we observed the conserved intron/exon structural patterns of WOX genes in rice, sorghum and Arabidopsis. In addition, WUS (Wuschel)-box and EAR (the ERF-associated amphiphilic repression)-like motif were observed to be conserved among several WOX subgroups in these five plants. Comparative analysis of expression patterns of WOX genes in rice and Arabidopsis suggest that the WOX genes play conserved and various roles in plants. This work provides insights into the evolution of the WOX gene family and is useful for future research.

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