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Plant Cell. 2007 Aug;19(8):2329-48. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

Large-scale, lineage-specific expansion of a bric-a-brac/tramtrack/broad complex ubiquitin-ligase gene family in rice.

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Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Selective ubiquitination of proteins is directed by diverse families of ubiquitin-protein ligases (or E3s) in plants. One important type uses Cullin-3 as a scaffold to assemble multisubunit E3 complexes containing one of a multitude of bric-a-brac/tramtrack/broad complex (BTB) proteins that function as substrate recognition factors. We previously described the 80-member BTB gene superfamily in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we describe the complete BTB superfamily in rice (Oryza sativa spp japonica cv Nipponbare) that contains 149 BTB domain-encoding genes and 43 putative pseudogenes. Amino acid sequence comparisons of the rice and Arabidopsis superfamilies revealed a near equal repertoire of putative substrate recognition module types. However, phylogenetic comparisons detected numerous gene duplication and/or loss events since the rice and Arabidopsis BTB lineages split, suggesting possible functional specialization within individual BTB families. In particular, a major expansion and diversification of a subset of BTB proteins containing Meprin and TRAF homology (MATH) substrate recognition sites was evident in rice and other monocots that likely occurred following the monocot/dicot split. The MATH domain of a subset appears to have evolved significantly faster than those in a smaller core subset that predates flowering plants, suggesting that the substrate recognition module in many monocot MATH-BTB E3s are diversifying to ubiquitinate a set of substrates that are themselves rapidly changing. Intriguing possibilities include pathogen proteins attempting to avoid inactivation by the monocot host.

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