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Plant Mol Biol. 2008 May;67(1-2):135-50. doi: 10.1007/s11103-008-9307-7. Epub 2008 Feb 15.

Characterization of KNOX genes in Medicago truncatula.

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Institute of Biology and Agricultural Biotechnology, Operative Unit of Rome, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Salaria Km. 29,300, Monterotondo Scalo, Roma, Italy.


We isolated three class I and three class II KNOX genes in Medicago truncatula. The predicted amino acid sequences suggested a possible orthology to the Arabidopsis homeodomain proteins STM, KNAT1/BP, KNAT3 and KNAT7 that was confirmed by phylogenetic and conserved structural domain analyses. Moreover, the STM-like MtKNOX1 and MtKNOX6 proteins were shown to retain the capability to interact with the Arabidopsis BELL protein partners of STM and KNAT1/BP. Amino acid residues that characterize the different classes of KNOX proteins were identified. Gene expression studies revealed organ-specificity, possible cytokinin-dependent transcriptional activation of two MtKNOXs and expression of one STM-like and a BP/KNAT1-like MtKNOX in roots. Interestingly, mRNA localization studies carried out on class I MtKNOX genes revealed important differences with previously characterised legume KNOXs. M. truncatula transcripts were not down-regulated in leaf primordia and early stages of leaf development, features shared with the more distant compound-leaved species Solanum lycopersicum.

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