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Identification and characterization of the bZIP transcription factor involved in zinc homeostasis in cereals

Author(s): A.R. Henriques, D. da R. Farias and A. Costa de Oliveira

Members of the basic leucine zipper family, as bZIP19, are considered to be essential regulators of the adaptation to zinc deficiency. Knowing that this gene as well as its targets are conserved in the plant kingdom, we followed an in silico approach to identify and characterize the bzip19 gene in cereals. Through BLASTp in Phytozome database, 33 bzip19 genes were identified on the genomes of Oryza sativa, Sorghum bicolor, Zea mays, Glycine max, Triticum aestivum, and Brachypodium distachyon. The analysis of conserved motifs and bZIP domains was performed using MEME and PFAM databases. In 25 of these genes, CysHis-motifs at the basic N-terminal region were found. This motif is conserved in group bZIP and suggested to play a role as a Zn-sensor. Regarding their phylogeny, it was possible to infer orthologous groups and explore the evolutionary relationship between these BZIP19 proteins. Data mining allowed us to select eight putative orthologous whose expression profile was analyzed under stress conditions in the Genevestigator platform. The comparison between the expression profiles of these eight putative orthologous and the original Arabidopsis bzip19 also seems to indicate conserved transcriptional regulation. Thus, considering that modified expression of bZIP19 genes has already been confirmed as an efficient tool to improve Arabidopsis tolerance to Zn deficiency, and that these new bZIP orthologous have a high level of conservation when compared to the original bZIP19 sequence, they can be useful for the development of tolerant crops enabling plants to grow in areas of low zinc bioavailability.