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Flores, R.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Serra, P.; Sanjuán, R.; Elena, S. F. Viroids: Survivors from the RNA World? Annual Rev Microbiol 68, 395 - 414, (2014) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-micro-091313-103416

Because RNA can be a carrier of genetic information and a biocatalyst, there is a consensus that it emerged before DNA and proteins, which eventually assumed these roles and relegated RNA to intermediate functions. If such a scenario—the so-called RNA world—existed, we might hope to find its relics in our present world. The properties of viroids that make them candidates for being survivors of the RNA world include those expected for primitive RNA replicons: (a) small size imposed by error-prone replication, (b) high G+ C content to increase replication fidelity, (c) circular structure for assuring complete replication without genomic tags, (d) structural periodicity for modular assembly into enlarged genomes, (e) lack of protein-coding ability consistent with a ribosome-free habitat, and (f) replication mediated in some by ribozymes, the fingerprint of the RNA world. With the advent of DNA and proteins, those protoviroids lost some abilities and became the plant parasites we now know.

De Nardi, B.; Dreos, R.; Del Terra, L.; Martellossi, C.; Asquini, E.; Tornincasa, P.; Gasperini, D.; Pacchioni, B.; Rathinavelu, R.; Pallavicini, A.; Graziosi, G. Differential responses of Coffea arabica L. leaves and roots to chemically induced systemic acquired resistance Genome 49, 1594-1605, (2006) DOI: 10.1139/g06-125

Coffea arabica is susceptible to several pests and diseases, some of which affect the leaves and roots. Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is the main defence mechanism activated in plants in response to pathogen attack. Here, we report the effects of benzo(1,2,3)thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid-s-methyl ester (BTH), a SAR chemical inducer, on the expression profile of C. arabica. Two cDNA libraries were constructed from the mRNA isolated from leaves and embryonic roots to create 1587 nonredundant expressed sequence tags (ESTs). We developed a cDNA microarray containing 1506 ESTs from the leaves and embryonic roots, and 48 NBS-LRR (nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat) gene fragments derived from 2 specific genomic libraries. Competitive hybridization between untreated and BTH-treated leaves resulted in 55 genes that were significantly overexpressed and 16 genes that were significantly underexpressed. In the roots, 37 and 42 genes were over and underexpressed, respectively. A general shift in metabolism from housekeeping to defence occurred in the leaves and roots after BTH treatment. We observed a systemic increase in pathogenesis-related protein synthesis, in the oxidative burst, and in the cell wall strengthening processes. Moreover, responses in the roots and leaves varied significantly.

Abel, S.; Savchenko, T.; Levy, M. Genome-wide comparative analysis of the <em>IQD</em> gene families in <em>Arabidopsis thaliana</em> and Oryza sativa BMC Evolutionary Biology 5, 72 (1-25), (2005)

We identified and analyzed 33 and 29 IQD1-like genes in Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa, respectively. The encoded IQD proteins contain a plant-specific domain of 67 conserved amino acid residues, referred to as the IQ67 domain, which is characterized by a unique and repetitive arrangement of three different calmodulin recruitment motifs, known as the IQ, 1-5-10, and 1-8-14 motifs. We demonstrated calmodulin binding for IQD20, the smallest IQD protein in Arabidopsis, which consists of a C-terminal IQ67 domain and a short N-terminal extension. A striking feature of IQD proteins is the high isoelectric point (~10.3) and frequency of serine residues (~11%). We compared the Arabidopsis and rice IQD gene families in terms of gene structure, chromosome location, predicted protein properties and motifs, phylogenetic relationships, and evolutionary history. The existence of an IQD-like gene in bryophytes suggests that IQD proteins are an ancient family of calmodulin-binding proteins and arose during the early evolution of land plants. Comparative phylogenetic analyses indicate that the major IQD gene lineages originated before the monocot-eudicot divergence. The extant IQD loci in Arabidopsis primarily resulted from segmental duplication and reflect preferential retention of paralogous genes, which is characteristic for proteins with regulatory functions. Interaction of IQD1 and IQD20 with calmodulin and the presence of predicted calmodulin binding sites in all IQD family members suggest that IQD proteins are a new class of calmodulin targets. The basic isoelectric point of IQD proteins and their frequently predicted nuclear localization suggest that IQD proteins link calcium signaling pathways to the regulation of gene expression. Our comparative genomics analysis of IQD genes and encoded proteins in two model plant species provides the first step towards the functional dissection of this emerging family of putative calmodulin targets.
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