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GORDITA (AGL63) is a young paralog of the Arabidopsis thaliana B(sister) MADS box gene ABS (TT16) that has undergone neofunctionalization.

Erdmann R., Gramzow L., Melzer R., Theissen G., Becker A.

MIKC-type MADS domain proteins are key regulators of flower development in angiosperms. B(sister) genes constitute a clade with a close relationship to class B floral homeotic genes, and have been conserved for more than 300 million years. The loss-of-function phenotype of the A. thaliana B(sister) gene ABS is mild: mutants show reduced seed coloration and defects in endothelium development. This study focuses on GORDITA (GOA, formerly known as AGL63), the most closely related paralog of ABS in A. thaliana, which is thought to act redundantly with ABS. Phylogenetic trees reveal that the duplication leading to ABS and GOA occurred during diversification of the Brassicaceae, and further analyses show that GOA has evolved under relaxed selection pressure. The knockdown phenotype of GOA suggests a role for this gene in fruit longitudinal growth, while over-expression of GOA results in disorganized floral structure and addition of carpel-like features to sepals. Given the phylogeny and function of other B(sister) genes, our data suggest that GOA has evolved a new function as compared to ABS. Protein analysis reveals that the GOA-specific 'deviant' domain is required for protein dimerization, in contrast to other MIKC-type proteins that require the K domain for dimerization. Moreover, no shared protein interaction partners for ABS and GOA could be identified. Our experiments indicate that modification of a protein domain and a shift in expression pattern can lead to a novel gene function in a relatively short time, and highlight the molecular mechanism by which neofunctionalization following gene duplication can be achieved.

Plant J. 63:914-924(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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