Genome-wide characterization of the HD-ZIP IV transcription factor family in maize: preferential expression in the epidermis

Marie Javelle, Catherine Klein-Cosson, Vanessa Vernoud, Véronique Boltz, Chris Maher, Marja Timmermans, Nathalie Depège-Fargeix, Peter M Rogowsky
Plant Physiology 2011, 157 (2): 790-803
Transcription factors of the plant-specific homeodomain leucine zipper IV (HD-ZIP IV) family have been found from moss to higher plants, and several family members have been associated with epidermis-related expression and/or function. In maize (Zea mays), four of the five characterized HD-ZIP IV family members are expressed specifically in the epidermis, one contributes to trichome development, and target genes of another one are involved in cuticle biosynthesis. Assessing the phylogeny, synteny, gene structure, expression, and regulation of the entire family in maize, 12 novel ZmHDZIV genes were identified in the recently sequenced maize genome. Among the 17 genes, eight form homeologous pairs duplicated after the split of maize and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), whereas a fifth duplication is shared with sorghum. All 17 ZmHDZIV genes appear to be derived from a basic module containing seven introns in the coding region. With one possible exception, all 17 ZmHDZIV genes are expressed and show preferential expression in immature reproductive organs. Fourteen of 15 ZmHDZIV genes with detectable expression in laser-dissected tissues exhibit a moderate to very strong expression preference for the epidermis, suggesting that at least in maize, the majority of HD-ZIP IV family members may have epidermis-related functions. Thirteen ZmHDZIV genes carry conserved motifs of 19 and 21 nucleotides in their 3' untranslated region. The strong evolutionary conservation and the size of the conserved motifs in the 3' untranslated region suggest that the expression of HD-ZIP IV genes may be regulated by small RNAs.

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