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J Integr Plant Biol. 2008 Aug;50(8):1031-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00681.x.

Phylogenetic analysis of the plant-specific zinc finger-homeobox and mini zinc finger gene families.

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Department of Biology and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Zinc finger-homeodomain proteins (ZHD) are present in many plants; however, the evolutionary history of the ZHD gene family remains largely unknown. We show here that ZHD genes are plant-specific, nearly all intronless, and related to MINI ZINC FINGER (MIF) genes that possess only the zinc finger. Phylogenetic analyses of ZHD genes from representative land plants suggest that non-seed plant ZHD genes occupy basal positions and angiosperm homologs form seven distinct clades. Several clades contain genes from two or more major angiosperm groups, including eudicots, monocots, magnoliids, and other basal angiosperms, indicating that several duplications occurred before the diversification of flowering plants. In addition, specific lineages have experienced more recent duplications. Unlike the ZHD genes, MIFs are found only from seed plants, possibly derived from ZHDs by loss of the homeodomain before the divergence of seed plants. Moreover, the MIF genes have also undergone relatively recent gene duplications. Finally, genome duplication might have contributed substantially to the expansion of family size in angiosperms and caused a high level of functional redundancy/overlap in these genes.

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