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Mol Biol Evol. 2009 Oct;26(10):2229-44. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msp129. Epub 2009 Jul 3.

Evolution of plant MADS box transcription factors: evidence for shifts in selection associated with early angiosperm diversification and concerted gene duplications.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiangshan, Beijing, People's Republic of China.


Phylogenomic analyses show that gene and genome duplication events have led to the diversification of transcription factor gene families throughout the evolutionary history of land plants and that gene duplications have played an important role in shaping regulatory networks influencing key phenotypic characters including floral development and flowering time. A molecular evolutionary investigation of the mode and tempo of selection acting on the angiosperm MADS box AP1/SQUA, AP3/PI, AG/AGL11, and SEP gene subfamilies revealed site-specific patterns of shifting evolutionary constraint throughout angiosperm history. Specific positions in the four canonical MADS box gene regions, especially K domains and C-terminal regions of all four of these MADS box gene subfamilies exhibited clade-specific shifts in selective constraint following concerted duplication events. Moreover, the frequency of site-specific shifts in constraint was correlated with gene duplications and early angiosperm diversification. We hypothesize that coevolution among interacting MADS box proteins may be responsible for simultaneous increases in the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions (d(N)/d(S) = omega) early in angiosperm history and following concerted duplication events.

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