Genome-wide analysis of the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factor gene family in six legume genomes

Zhihui Wang, Ke Cheng, Liyun Wan, Liying Yan, Huifang Jiang, Shengyi Liu, Yong Lei, Boshou Liao
BMC Genomics 2015 December 10, 16: 1053

BACKGROUND: Plant bZIP proteins characteristically harbor a highly conserved bZIP domain with two structural features: a DNA-binding basic region and a leucine (Leu) zipper dimerization region. They have been shown to be diverse transcriptional regulators, playing crucial roles in plant development, physiological processes, and biotic/abiotic stress responses. Despite the availability of six completely sequenced legume genomes, a comprehensive investigation of bZIP family members in legumes has yet to be presented.

RESULTS: In this study, we identified 428 bZIP genes encoding 585 distinct proteins in six legumes, Glycine max, Medicago truncatula, Phaseolus vulgaris, Cicer arietinum, Cajanus cajan, and Lotus japonicus. The legume bZIP genes were categorized into 11 groups according to their phylogenetic relationships with genes from Arabidopsis. Four kinds of intron patterns (a-d) within the basic and hinge regions were defined and additional conserved motifs were identified, both presenting high group specificity and supporting the group classification. We predicted the DNA-binding patterns and the dimerization properties, based on the characteristic features in the basic and hinge regions and the Leu zipper, respectively, which indicated that some highly conserved amino acid residues existed across each major group. The chromosome distribution and analysis for WGD-derived duplicated blocks revealed that the legume bZIP genes have expanded mainly by segmental duplication rather than tandem duplication. Expression data further revealed that the legume bZIP genes were expressed constitutively or in an organ-specific, development-dependent manner playing roles in multiple seed developmental stages and tissues. We also detected several key legume bZIP genes involved in drought- and salt-responses by comparing fold changes of expression values in drought-stressed or salt-stressed roots and leaves.

CONCLUSIONS: In summary, this genome-wide identification, characterization and expression analysis of legume bZIP genes provides valuable information for understanding the molecular functions and evolution of the legume bZIP transcription factor family, and highlights potential legume bZIP genes involved in regulating tissue development and abiotic stress responses.

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