Structural and Functional Analyses of Genes Encoding VQ Proteins in Apple
Qinglong Dong, Shuang Zhao, Dingyue Duan, Yi Tian, Yanpeng Wang, Ke Mao, Zongshan Zhou, Fengwang Ma.
Abstract: Recent studies with Arabidopsis and soybean have shown that a class of valine-glutamine (VQ) motif-containing proteins interacts with some WRKY transcription factors. However, little is known about the evolution, structures, and functions of those proteins in apple. Here, we examined their features and identified 49 apple VQ genes. Our evolutional analysis revealed that the proteins could be clustered into nine groups together with their homologues in 33 species. Historically, the main characteristics of proteins in Groups I, V, VI, VII, IX, and X were thought to have been generated before the monocot-dicot split, whereas those in Groups II, III+ IV, and VIII were generated after that split. In the structural analysis, apple MdVQ proteins appeared to bind only with Group I and IIc MdWRKY proteins. Meanwhile, MdVQ1, MdVQ10, MdVQ15, and MdVQ36 interacted with multiple MdVQ proteins to form heterodimers but MdVQ15 formed a homodimer. The functional analysis indicated that overexpression of some apple MdVQs in Arabidopsis and tobacco plants effected their vegetative and reproductive growth. These results provide important information about the characteristics of apple MdVQ genes and can serve as a solid foundation for further studies about the role of WRKY-VQ interactions in regulating apple developmental and defense mechanisms.