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Plant Cell. 2012 May;24(5):1834-47. doi: 10.1105/tpc.112.099457. Epub 2012 May 30.

Evolution of double positive autoregulatory feedback loops in CYCLOIDEA2 clade genes is associated with the origin of floral zygomorphy.

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State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, China.


Members of the CYCLOIDEA2 (CYC2) clade of the TEOSINTE BRANCHED1, CYCLOIDEA, and PCF transcription factor genes are widely involved in controlling floral zygomorphy, a key innovation in angiosperm evolution, depending on their persistently asymmetric expression in the corresponding floral domains. However, it is unclear how this asymmetric expression is maintained throughout floral development. Selecting Primulina heterotricha as a model, we examined the expression and function of two CYC2 genes, CYC1C and CYC1D. We analyzed the role of their promoters in protein-DNA interactions and transcription activation using electrophoresis mobility shift assays, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and transient gene expression assays. We find that CYC1C and CYC1D positively autoregulate themselves and cross-regulate each other. Our results reveal a double positive autoregulatory feedback loop, evolved for a pair of CYC2 genes to maintain their expression in developing flowers. Further comparative genome analyses, together with the available expression and function data of CYC2 genes in the core eudicots, suggest that this mechanism might have led to the independent origins of floral zygomorphy, which are associated with plant-insect coevolution and the adaptive radiation of angiosperms.

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