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Plant Mol Biol. 1995 Jul;28(4):723-37.

The homeobox gene ATK1 of Arabidopsis thaliana is expressed in the shoot apex of the seedling and in flowers and inflorescence stems of mature plants.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The homeodomain is a DNA-binding domain present in a large family of eukaryotic regulatory proteins. Homeodomain proteins have been shown to play key roles in controlling developmental programs in various organisms. Here we report the isolation and characterisation of a homeobox gene from Arabidopsis thaliana designated ATK1. The gene was isolated using as a probe the homeobox domain of the KN1 gene from maize. The homeodomain of ATK1 is highly homologous to the homeodomain of the KN1 gene of maize (81%) but shows only poor homology outside the homeodomain. Therefore ATK1 is probably not the Arabidopsis homologue of the KN1 gene from maize. It contains the four invariant amino acid residues present in the recognition helix 3 of all other homeodomain proteins. Outside the homeodomain a region rich in aspartate and glutamate residues is found suggesting that ATK1 is a transcriptional activator. The gene contains four introns which is similar in the KN1 gene of maize and the Osh1 gene of rice. Primer extension reveals the presence of two transcription initiation sites. The leader sequence of the genuine transcript is 342 nucleotides long and contains two upstream open reading frames. ATK1 is strongly expressed in the shoot apex of seedlings, while in mature plants the gene is primarily expressed in flowers and inflorescence stems. Such an expression pattern is reminiscent of that of the KN1 gene of maize and therefore ATK1 could similarly be involved in determining cell fate.

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