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Theor Appl Genet. 2013 May;126(5):1305-19. doi: 10.1007/s00122-013-2054-4. Epub 2013 Feb 2.

Genome-wide identification and analysis of the B3 superfamily of transcription factors in Brassicaceae and major crop plants.

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Agricultural Lipid Biotechnology Program, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P5, Canada.


The plant-specific B3 superfamily of transcription factors has diverse functions in plant growth and development. Using a genome-wide domain analysis, we identified 92, 187, 58, 90, 81, 55, and 77 B3 transcription factor genes in the sequenced genome of Arabidopsis, Brassica rapa, castor bean (Ricinus communis), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), soybean (Glycine max), maize (Zea mays), and rice (Oryza sativa), respectively. The B3 superfamily has substantially expanded during the evolution in eudicots particularly in Brassicaceae, as compared to monocots in the analysis. We observed domain duplication in some of these B3 proteins, forming more complex domain architectures than currently understood. We found that the length of B3 domains exhibits a large variation, which may affect their exact number of α-helices and β-sheets in the core structure of B3 domains, and possibly have functional implications. Analysis of the public microarray data indicated that most of the B3 gene pairs encoding Arabidopsis-rice orthologs are preferentially expressed in different tissues, suggesting their different roles in these two species. Using ESTs in crops, we identified many B3 genes preferentially expressed in reproductive tissues. In a sequence-based quantitative trait loci analysis in rice and maize, we have found many B3 genes associated with traits such as grain yield, seed weight and number, and protein content. Our results provide a framework for future studies into the function of B3 genes in different phases of plant development, especially the ones related to traits in major crops.

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