Science China. Life sciences

Comprehensive analysis of NAC transcription factors in diploid Gossypium: sequence conservation and expression analysis uncover their roles during fiber development.

PMID 26803306


Determining how function evolves following gene duplication is necessary for understanding gene expansion. Transcription factors (TFs) are a class of proteins that regulate gene expression by binding to specific cis-acting elements in the promoters of target genes, subsequently activating or repressing their transcription. In the present study, we systematically examined the functional diversification of the NAC transcription factor (NAC-TFs) family by analyzing their chromosomal location, structure, phylogeny, and expression pattern in Gossypium raimondii (Gr) and G. arboreum (Ga). The 145 and 141 NAC genes identified in the Gr and Ga genomes, respectively, were annotated and divided into 18 subfamilies, which showed distinct divergence in gene structure and expression patterns during fiber development. In addition, when the functional parameters were examined, clear divergence was observed within tandem clusters, which suggested that subfunctionalization had occurred among duplicate genes. The expression patterns of homologous gene pairs also changed, suggestive of the diversification of gene function during the evolution of diploid cotton. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms underlying the functional differentiation of duplicated NAC-TFs genes in two diploid cotton species.