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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Sep 11;98(19):10763-8. Epub 2001 Aug 28.

Receptor-like kinases from Arabidopsis form a monophyletic gene family related to animal receptor kinases.

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Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Plant receptor-like kinases (RLKs) are proteins with a predicted signal sequence, single transmembrane region, and cytoplasmic kinase domain. Receptor-like kinases belong to a large gene family with at least 610 members that represent nearly 2.5% of Arabidopsis protein coding genes. We have categorized members of this family into subfamilies based on both the identity of the extracellular domains and the phylogenetic relationships between the kinase domains of subfamily members. Surprisingly, this structurally defined group of genes is monophyletic with respect to kinase domains when compared with the other eukaryotic kinase families. In an extended analysis, animal receptor kinases, Raf kinases, plant RLKs, and animal receptor tyrosine kinases form a well supported group sharing a common origin within the superfamily of serine/threonine/tyrosine kinases. Among animal kinase sequences, Drosophila Pelle and related cytoplasmic kinases fall within the plant RLK clade, which we now define as the RLK/Pelle family. A survey of expressed sequence tag records for land plants reveals that mosses, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants have similar percentages of expressed sequence tags representing RLK/Pelle homologs, suggesting that the size of this gene family may have been close to the present-day level before the diversification of land plant lineages. The distribution pattern of four RLK subfamilies on Arabidopsis chromosomes indicates that the expansion of this gene family is partly a consequence of duplication and reshuffling of the Arabidopsis genome and of the generation of tandem repeats.

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