Author: Liping Zeng, Yue Yin, Chenjiang You, Qianli Pan, Duo Xu, Taijie Jin, Bailong Zhang, and Hong Ma
Plants have evolved a large number of transcription factors (TF), which are enriched among duplicate genes, highlighting their roles in complex regulatory networks. The APETALA2/EREBP-like genes constitute a large plant TF family and participate in development and stress responses. To probe the conservation and divergence of AP2/EREBP genes, we analyzed the duplication patterns of this family in Brassicaceae and identified interacting proteins of representative Arabidopsis AP2/EREBP proteins. We found that many AP2/EREBP duplicates generated early in Brassicaceae history were quickly lost, but many others were retained in all tested Brassicaceae species, suggesting early functional divergence followed by persistent conservation. In addition, the sequences of the AP2 domain and exon numbers were highly conserved in rosids. Furthermore, we used 16 A. thaliana AP2/EREBP proteins as baits in yeast screens and identified 1,970 potential AP2/EREBP-interacting proteins, with a small subset of interactions verified in planta. Many AP2 genes also exhibit reduced expression in an anther-defective mutant, providing a possible link to developmental regulation. The putative AP2-interacting proteins participate in many functions in development and stress responses, including photomorphogenesis, flower development, pathogenesis, drought and cold responses, abscisic acid and auxin signaling. Our results present the AP2/EREBP evolution patterns in Brassicaceae, and support a proposed interaction network of AP2/EREBP proteins and their putative interacting proteins for further study.