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Genetics. 1998 Jun;149(2):765-83.

Molecular evolution of genes controlling petal and stamen development: duplication and divergence within the APETALA3 and PISTILLATA MADS-box gene lineages.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


The specification of floral organ identity in the higher dicots depends on the function of a limited set of homeotic genes, many of them members of the MADS-box gene family. Two such genes, APETALA3 (AP3) and PISTILLATA (PI), are required for petal and stamen identity in Arabidopsis; their orthologs in Antirrhinum exhibit similar functions. To understand how changes in these genes may have influenced the morphological evolution of petals and stamens, we have cloned twenty-six homologs of the AP3 and PI genes from two higher eudicot and eleven lower eudicot and magnolid dicot species. The sequences of these genes reveal the presence of characteristic PI- and AP3-specific motifs. While the PI-specific motif is found in all of the PI genes characterized to date, the lower eudicot and magnolid dicot AP3 homologs contain distinctly different motifs from those seen in the higher eudicots. An analysis of all the available AP3 and PI sequences uncovers multiple duplication events within each of the two gene lineages. A major duplication event in the AP3 lineage coincides with the base of the higher eudicot radiation and may reflect the evolution of a petal-specific AP3 function in the higher eudicot lineage.

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