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Nucleic Acids Res. 2007;35(9):3144-52. Epub 2007 Apr 22.

Identification of conserved secondary structures and expansion segments in enod40 RNAs reveals new enod40 homologues in plants.

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  • 1Leiden Institute of Biology, Leiden University, Kaiserstraat 63, 2311 GP Leiden, The Netherlands.


enod40 is a plant gene that participates in the regulation of symbiotic interaction between leguminous plants and bacteria or fungi. Furthermore, it has been suggested to play a general role in non-symbiotic plant development. Although enod40 seems to have multiple functions, being present in many land plants, the molecular mechanisms of its activity are unclear; they may be determined though, by short peptides and/or RNA structures encoded in the enod40 genes. We utilized conserved RNA structures in enod40 sequences to search nucleotide sequence databases and identified a number of new enod40 homologues in plant species that belong to known, but also, to yet unknown enod40-containing plant families. RNA secondary structure predictions and comparative sequence analysis of enod40 RNAs allowed us to determine the most conserved structural features, present in all known enod40 genes. Remarkably, the topology and evolution of one of the conserved structural domains are similar to those of the expansion segments found in structural RNAs such as rRNAs, RNase P and SRP RNAs. Surprisingly, the enod40 RNA structural elements are much more stronger conserved than the encoded peptides. This finding suggests that some general functions of enod40 gene could be determined by the encoded RNA structure, whereas short peptides may be responsible for more diverse functions found only in certain plant families.

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