Mockler Lab


Expression, splicing, and evolution of the myosin gene family in plants


Plants possess two myosin classes, VIII and XI. The myosins XI are implicated in organelle transport, filamentous actin organization, and cell and plant growth. Due to the large size of myosin gene families, knowledge of these molecular motors remains patchy. Using deep transcriptome sequencing and bioinformatics, we systematically investigated myosin genes in two model plants, Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and Brachypodium (Brachypodium distachyon). We improved myosin gene models and found that myosin genes undergo alternative splicing. We experimentally validated the gene models for Arabidopsis myosin XI-K, which plays the principal role in cell interior dynamics, as well as for its Brachypodium ortholog. We showed that the Arabidopsis gene dubbed HDK (for headless derivative of myosin XI-K), which emerged through a partial duplication of the XI-K gene, is developmentally regulated. A gene with similar architecture was also found in Brachypodium. Our analyses revealed two predominant patterns of myosin gene expression, namely pollen/stamen-specific and ubiquitous expression throughout the plant. We also found that several myosins XI can be rhythmically expressed. Phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that the last common ancestor of the angiosperms possessed two myosins VIII and five myosins XI, many of which underwent additional lineage-specific duplications.

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