Genome-wide analysis of soybean HD-Zip gene family and expression profiling under salinity and drought treatments

Xue Chen, Zhu Chen, Hualin Zhao, Yang Zhao, Beijiu Cheng, Yan Xiang
PloS One 2014, 9 (2): e87156

BACKGROUND: Homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) proteins, a group of homeobox transcription factors, participate in various aspects of normal plant growth and developmental processes as well as environmental responses. To date, no overall analysis or expression profiling of the HD-Zip gene family in soybean (Glycine max) has been reported.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: An investigation of the soybean genome revealed 88 putative HD-Zip genes. These genes were classified into four subfamilies, I to IV, based on phylogenetic analysis. In each subfamily, the constituent parts of gene structure and motif were relatively conserved. A total of 87 out of 88 genes were distributed unequally on 20 chromosomes with 36 segmental duplication events, indicating that segmental duplication is important for the expansion of the HD-Zip family. Analysis of the Ka/Ks ratios showed that the duplicated genes of the HD-Zip family basically underwent purifying selection with restrictive functional divergence after the duplication events. Analysis of expression profiles showed that 80 genes differentially expressed across 14 tissues, and 59 HD-Zip genes are differentially expressed under salinity and drought stress, with 20 paralogous pairs showing nearly identical expression patterns and three paralogous pairs diversifying significantly under drought stress. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis of six paralogous pairs of 12 selected soybean HD-Zip genes under both drought and salinity stress confirmed their stress-inducible expression patterns.

CONCLUSIONS: This study presents a thorough overview of the soybean HD-Zip gene family and provides a new perspective on the evolution of this gene family. The results indicate that HD-Zip family genes may be involved in many plant responses to stress conditions. Additionally, this study provides a solid foundation for uncovering the biological roles of HD-Zip genes in soybean growth and development.

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