WRKY gene family evolution in Arabidopsis thaliana
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- Wang, Q., Wang, M., Zhang, X. et al. Genetica (2011) 139: 973. doi:10.1007/s10709-011-9599-4
The Arabidopsis thaliana WRKY proteins are characterized by a sequence of 60 amino acids including WRKY domain. It is well established that these proteins are involved in the regulation of various physiological programs unique to plants including pathogen defense, senescence and response to environmental stresses, which attracts attention of the scientific community as to how this family might have evolved. We tried to satisfy this curiosity and analyze reasons for duplications of these gene sequences leading to their diversified gene actions. The WRKY sequences available in Arabidopsis thaliana were used to evaluate selection pressure following duplication events. A phylogenetic tree was constructed and the WRKY family was divided into five sub-families. After that, tests were conducted to decide whether positive or purified selection played key role in these events. Our results suggest that purifying selection played major role during the evolution of this family. Some amino acid changes were also detected in specific branches of phylogeny suggesting that relaxed constraints might also have contributed to functional divergence among sub-families. Sites relaxed from purifying selection were identified and mapped onto the structural and functional regions of the WRKY1 protein. These analyses will enhance our understanding of the precise role played by natural selection to create functional diversity in WRKY family.