Structure and evolution of genes encoding polyubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia.
J Callis, T Carpenter, C W Sun, R D Vierstra


The Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia ubiquitin gene family consists of 14 members that can be divided into three types of ubiquitin genes; polyubiquitin genes, ubiquitin-like genes and ubiquitin extension genes. The isolation and characterization of eight ubiquitin sequences, consisting of four polyubiquitin genes and four ubiquitin-like genes, are described here, and their relationships to each other and to previously identified Arabidopsis ubiquitin genes were analyzed. The polyubiquitin genes, UBQ3, UBQ10, UBQ11 and UBQ14, contain tandem repeats of the 228-bp ubiquitin coding region. Together with a previously described polyubiquitin gene, UBQ4, they differ in synonymous substitutions, number of ubiquitin coding regions, number and nature of nonubiquitin C-terminal amino acid(s) and chromosomal location, dividing into two subtypes; the UBQ3/UBQ4 and UBQ10/UBQ11/UBQ14 subtypes. Ubiquitin-like genes, UBQ7, UBQ8, UBQ9 and UBQ12, also contain tandem repeats of the ubiquitin coding region, but at least one repeat per gene encodes a protein with amino acid substitutions. Nucleotide comparisons, Ks value determinations and neighbor-joining analyses were employed to determine intra- and intergenic relationships. In general, the rate of synonymous substitution is too high to discern related repeats. Specific exceptions provide insight into gene relationships. The observed nucleotide relationships are consistent with previously described models involving gene duplications followed by both unequal crossing-over and gene conversion events.