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Evolution by gene duplication of Medicago truncatula PISTILLATA-like transcription factors

AuthorsRoque E; Fares, Mario A. ; Yenush L; Rochina MC; Wen J; Mysore KS; Gómez-Mena C; Beltrán JP; Cañas LA
Issue DateMar-2016
CitationJournal of Experimental Botany
AbstractPISTILLATA (PI) is a member of the B-function MADS-box gene family, which controls the identity of both petals and stamens in Arabidopsis thaliana. In Medicago truncatula (Mt), there are two PI-like paralogs, known as MtPI and MtNGL9. These genes differ in their expression patterns, but it is not known whether their functions have also diverged. Describing the evolution of certain duplicated genes, such as transcription factors, remains a challenge owing to the complex expression patterns and functional divergence between the gene copies. Here, we report a number of functional studies, including analyses of gene expression, protein–protein interactions, and reverse genetic approaches designed to demonstrate the respective contributions of each M. truncatula PI-like paralog to the B-function in this species. Also, we have integrated molecular evolution approaches to determine the mode of evolution of Mt PI-like genes after duplication. Our results demonstrate that MtPI functions as a master regulator of B-function in M. truncatula, maintaining the overall ancestral function, while MtNGL9 does not seem to have a role in this regard, suggesting that the pseudogenization could be the functional evolutionary fate for this gene. However, we provide evidence that purifying selection is the primary evolutionary force acting on this paralog, pinpointing the conservation of its biochemical function and, alternatively, the acquisition of a new role for this gene.
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