CCCH-type zinc finger family in maize: genome-wide identification, classification and expression profiling under abscisic acid and drought treatments.PLoS One. 2012; 7(7):e40120.Plos
CCCH-type zinc finger proteins comprise a large protein family. Increasing evidence suggests that members of this family are RNA-binding proteins with regulatory functions in mRNA processing. Compared with those in animals, functions of CCCH-type zinc finger proteins involved in plant growth and development are poorly understood.
Here, we performed a genome-wide survey of CCCH-type zinc finger genes in maize (Zea mays L.) by describing the gene structure, phylogenetic relationships and chromosomal location of each family member. Promoter sequences and expression profiles of putative stress-responsive members were also investigated. A total of 68 CCCH genes (ZmC3H1-68) were identified in maize and divided into seven groups by phylogenetic analysis. These 68 genes were found to be unevenly distributed on 10 chromosomes with 15 segmental duplication events, suggesting that segmental duplication played a major role in expansion of the maize CCCH family. The Ka/Ks ratios suggested that the duplicated genes of the CCCH family mainly experienced purifying selection with limited functional divergence after duplication events. Twelve maize CCCH genes grouped with other known stress-responsive genes from Arabidopsis were found to contain putative stress-responsive cis-elements in their promoter regions. Seven of these genes chosen for further quantitative real-time PCR analysis showed differential expression patterns among five representative maize tissues and over time in response to abscisic acid and drought treatments.
The results presented in this study provide basic information on maize CCCH proteins and form the foundation for future functional studies of these proteins, especially for those members of which may play important roles in response to abiotic stresses.