Divergent evolutionary patterns of NAC transcription factors are associated with diversification and gene duplications in angiosperm

Xiaoli Jin, Jing Ren, Eviatar Nevo, Xuegui Yin, Dongfa Sun, Junhua Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


NAC(NAM/ATAF/CUC) proteins constitute one of the biggest plant-specific transcription factor (TF) families and have crucial roles in diverse developmental programs during plant growth. Phylogenetic analyses have revealed both conserved and lineage-specific NAC subfamilies, among which various origins and distinct features were observed. It is reasonable to hypothesize that there should be divergent evolutionary patterns of NAC TFs both between dicots and monocots, and among NAC subfamilies. In this study, we compared the gene duplication and loss, evolutionary rate, and selective pattern among non-lineage specific NAC subfamilies, as well as those between dicots and monocots, through genome-wide analyses of sequence and functional data in six dicot and five grass lineages. The number of genes gained in the dicot lineages was much larger than that in the grass lineages, while fewer gene losses were observed in the grass than that in the dicots. We revealed (1) uneven constitution of Clusters of Orthologous Groups (COGs) and contrasting birth/death rates among subfamilies, and (2) two distinct evolutionary scenarios of NAC TFs between dicots and grasses. Our results demonstrated that relaxed selection, resulting from concerted gene duplications, may have permitted substitutions responsible for functional divergence of NAC genes into new lineages. The underlying mechanism of distinct evolutionary fates of NAC TFs shed lights on howevolutionary divergence contributes to differences in establishing NAC gene subfamilies and thus impacts the distinct features between dicots and grasses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1156
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Jin, Ren, Nevo, Yin, Sun and Peng.


  • Angiosperm
  • Divergent selection
  • Evolution rate
  • Gene duplication
  • NAC transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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