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Plant Physiol. 2003 Dec;133(4):1791-808. Epub 2003 Nov 6.

Conserved subgroups and developmental regulation in the monocot rop gene family.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.


Rop small GTPases are plant-specific signaling proteins with roles in pollen and vegetative cell growth, abscisic acid signal transduction, stress responses, and pathogen resistance. We have characterized the rop family in the monocots maize (Zea mays) and rice (Oryza sativa). The maize genome contains at least nine expressed rops, and the fully sequenced rice genome has seven. Based on phylogenetic analyses of all available Rops, the family can be subdivided into four groups that predate the divergence of monocots and dicots; at least three have been maintained in both lineages. However, the Rop family has evolved differently in the two lineages, with each exhibiting apparent expansion in different groups. These analyses, together with genetic mapping and identification of conserved non-coding sequences, predict orthology for specific rice and maize rops. We also identified consensus protein sequence elements specific to each Rop group. A survey of ROP-mRNA expression in maize, based on multiplex reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and a massively parallel signature sequencing database, showed significant spatial and temporal overlap of the nine transcripts, with high levels of all nine in tissues in which cells are actively dividing and expanding. However, only a subset of rops was highly expressed in mature leaves and pollen. Intriguingly, the grouping of maize rops based on hierarchical clustering of expression profiles was remarkably similar to that obtained by phylogenetic analysis. We hypothesize that the Rop groups represent classes with distinct functions, which are specified by the unique protein sequence elements in each group and by their distinct expression patterns.

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