Homeobox-containing genes play developmentally important roles in a wide variety of plants, animals and fungi. As a way of studying how development is controlled in the unicellular green macroalga Acetabularia acetabulum, we used degenerate PCR to clone a knotted1-like (kn1-like) homeobox gene, Aaknox1 (A cetabularia a cetabulum kn 1-like homeobox 1). Aaknox1 is the first knotted1-like homeobox gene to be cloned from a non-vascular plant and shows strong conservation with kn1-like genes from the vascular plants (ca. 56% amino acid identity within the homeodomain). Sequencing of cDNA clones indicates that Aaknox1 possesses at least two distinct polyadenylation sites spaced ca. 600 bp apart. Southern analysis suggests that several other kn1-like homeobox genes exist in the Acetabularia genome. Northern analyses demonstrate that expression of Aaknox1 is developmentally regulated, with peak levels of expression during early reproductive phase. Northern analyses further demonstrate that Aaknox1 mRNA undergoes a change in its subcellular localization pattern during the progression from late vegetative to early reproductive phase. In late adult phase, Aaknox1 is distributed uniformly throughout the alga; in early reproductive phase, Aaknox1 is present in a gradient with the highest concentration of the mRNA at the base of the stalk, near the single nucleus. These data suggest that Aaknox1 may have a role during early reproductive development and that mRNA localization may be one mechanism by which A. acetabulum regulates gene expression post-transcriptionally.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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