Ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis by the proteasome is a critical regulatory mechanism controlling many biological processes. In particular, SKP1, cullin/CDC53, F-box protein (SCF) complexes play important roles in selecting substrates for proteolysis by facilitating the ligation of ubiquitin to specific proteins. In plants, SCF complexes have been found to regulate auxin responses and jasmonate signaling and may be involved in several other processes, such as flower development, circadian clock, and gibberellin signaling. Although 21 Skp1-related genes, called Arabidopsis - SKP1 - like ( ASK ), have been uncovered in the Arabidopsis genome, ASK1 is the only gene that has been analyzed genetically. As a first step toward understanding their functions, we tested for expression of 20 ASK genes using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction experiments. Also, we examined the expression patterns of 11 ASK genes by in situ hybridizations. The ASK genes exhibit a spectrum of expression levels and patterns, with a large subset showing expression in the flower and/or fruit. In addition, the ASK genes that have similar sequences tend to have similar expression patterns. On the basis of the expression results, we selectively suppressed the expression of a few ASK genes using RNA interference. Compared with the ask1 mutant, the strong ASK1 RNA interference (RNAi) line exhibited similar or enhanced phenotypes in both vegetative and floral development, whereas ASK11 RNAi plants had normal vegetative growth but mild defects in flower development. The diverse expression patterns and distinct defects observed in RNAi plants suggest that the ASK gene family may collectively perform a range of functions and may regulate different developmental and physiological processes.
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