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FRIGIDA and related proteins have a conserved central domain and family specific N- and C- terminal regions that are functionally important

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Abstract

Arabidopsis accessions are either winter-annuals, which require cold winter temperatures for spring flowering, or rapid-cycling summer annuals. Typically, winter annual accessions have functional FRIGIDA (FRI) and FRIGIDA-LIKE 1 (FRL1) proteins that promote high expression of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), which prevents flowering until after winter. In contrast, many rapid-cycling accessions have low FLC levels because FRI is inactive. Using biochemical, functional and bioinformatic approaches, we show that FRI and FRL1 contain a stable, central domain that is conserved across the FRI superfamily. This core domain is monomeric in solution and primarily α-helical. We analysed the ability of several FRI deletion constructs to function in Arabidopsis plants. Our findings suggest that the C-terminus, which is predicted to be disordered, is required for FRI to promote FLC expression and may mediate protein:protein interactions. The contribution of the FRI N-terminus appears to be limited, as constructs missing these residues retained significant activity when expressed at high levels. The important N- and C-terminal regions differ between members of the FRI superfamily and sequence analysis identified five FRI families with distinct expression patterns in Arabidopsis, suggesting the families have separate biological roles.

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Acknowledgments

Tony Gendall for ideas and helpful discussions. Our research was supported by a University of Otago Research Grant (CLD) and the Marsden Fund (RCM). REL was funded by an AGMARDT Postdoctoral Fellowship and JMR was a recipient of a Bright Futures Enterprise PhD Scholarship from the Tertiary Education Commission and Grasslanz.

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Correspondence to Richard C. Macknight or Catherine L. Day.

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Risk, J.M., Laurie, R.E., Macknight, R.C. et al. FRIGIDA and related proteins have a conserved central domain and family specific N- and C- terminal regions that are functionally important. Plant Mol Biol 73, 493–505 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11103-010-9635-2

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