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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A homeobox gene with potential developmental control function in the meristem of the conifer Picea abies.

Many homeobox genes control essential developmental processes in animals and plants. In this report, we describe the first cDNA corresponding to a homeobox gene isolated from a gymnosperm, the HBK1 gene from the conifer Picea abies (L.) Karst (Norway spruce). The sequence shows distinct similarities specifically to the KNOX (knotted-like homeobox) class of homeobox genes known from different angiosperm plants. The deduced amino acid sequence of HBK1 is strikingly similar within the homeodomain (84% identical) to the maize gene Knotted1 (Kn1), which acts to regulate cell differentiation in the shoot meristem. This similarity suggested that the phylogenetic association of HBK1 with the KNOX genes might be coupled to a conservation of gene function. In support of this suggestion, we have found HBK1 to be expressed in the apical meristem in the central population of nondifferentiated stem cells, but not in organ primordia developing at the flanks of the meristem. This pattern of expression is similar to that of Kn1 in the maize meristem. We show further that HBK1, when expressed ectopically in transgenic Arabidopsis plants, causes aberrations in leaf development that are similar to the effects of ectopic expression of angiosperm KNOX genes on Arabidopsis development. Taken together, these data suggest that HBK1 has a role, similar to the KNOX genes in angiosperms, in the control of cellular differentiation in the apical meristem of spruce. The data also indicate that KNOX-gene regulation of vegetative development is an ancient feature of seed plants that was present in the last common ancestor of conifers and angiosperms.[1]


  1. A homeobox gene with potential developmental control function in the meristem of the conifer Picea abies. Sundås-Larsson, A., Svenson, M., Liao, H., Engström, P. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1998) [Pubmed]
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