Genome-wide identification, phylogeny, evolution and expression patterns of AP2/ERF genes and cytokinin response factors in Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis

Zhenning Liu, Lijun Kong, Mei Zhang, Yanxia Lv, Yapei Liu, Minghau Zou, Gang Lu, Jiashu Cao, Xiaolin Yu
PloS One 2013, 8 (12): e83444
The AP2/ERF transcription factor family is one of the largest families involved in growth and development, hormone responses, and biotic or abiotic stress responses in plants. In this study, 281 AP2/ERF transcription factor unigenes were identified in Chinese cabbage. These superfamily members were classified into three families (AP2, ERF, and RAV). The ERF family was subdivided into the DREB subfamily and the ERF subfamily with 13 groups (I- XI) based on sequence similarity. Duplication, evolution and divergence of the AP2/ERF genes in B. rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana were investigated and estimated. Cytokinin response factors (CRFs), as a subclade of the AP2/ERF family, are important transcription factors that define a branch point in the cytokinin two-component signal (TCS) transduction pathway. Up to 21 CRFs with a conserved CRF domain were retrieved and designated as BrCRFs. The amino acid sequences, conserved regions and motifs, phylogenetic relationships, and promoter regions of the 21 BrCRFs were analyzed in detail. The BrCRFs broadly expressed in various tissues and organs. The transcripts of BrCRFs were regulated by factors such as drought, high salinity, and exogenous 6-BA, NAA, and ABA, suggesting their involvement in abiotic stress conditions and regulatory mechanisms of plant hormone homeostasis. These results provide new insight into the divergence, variation, and evolution of AP2/ERF genes at the genome-level in Chinese cabbage.

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