Expansion and stress responses of AP2/EREBP superfamily in Brachypodium distachyon

Lihong Chen, Jiapeng Han, Xiaomin Deng, Shenglong Tan, Lili Li, Lun Li, Junfei Zhou, Hai Peng, Guangxiao Yang, Guangyuan He, Weixiong Zhang
Scientific Reports 2016 February 12, 6: 21623
APETALA2/ethylene-responsive element binding protein (AP2/EREBP) transcription factors constitute one of the largest and most conserved gene families in plant, and play essential roles in growth, development and stress response. Except a few members, the AP2/EREBP family has not been characterized in Brachypodium distachyon, a model plant of Poaceae. We performed a genome-wide study of this family in B. distachyon by phylogenetic analyses, transactivation assays and transcript profiling. A total of 149 AP2/EREBP genes were identified and divided into four subfamilies, i.e., ERF (ethylene responsive factor), DREB (dehydration responsive element binding gene), RAV (related to ABI3/VP) and AP2. Tandem duplication was a major force in expanding B. distachyon AP2/EREBP (BdAP2/EREBP) family. Despite a significant expansion, genomic organizations of BdAP2/EREBPs were monotonous as the majority of them, except those of AP2 subfamily, had no intron. An analysis of transcription activities of several closely related and duplicated BdDREB genes showed their functional divergence and redundancy in evolution. The expression of BdAP2/EREBPs in different tissues and the expression of DREB/ERF subfamilies in B. distachyon, wheat and rice under abiotic stresses were investigated by next-generation sequencing and microarray profiling. Our results are valuable for further function analysis of stress tolerant AP2/EREBP genes in B. distachyon.

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