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Inventory and general analysis of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) gene superfamily in maize (Zea mays L.).


The metabolic functions of ATP-binding cassette (or ABC) proteins, one of the largest families of proteins presented in all organisms, have been investigated in many protozoan, animal and plant species. To facilitate more systematic and complicated studies on maize ABC proteins in the future, we present the first complete inventory of these proteins, including 130 open reading frames (ORFs), and provide general descriptions of their classifications, basic structures, typical functions, evolution track analysis and expression profiles. The 130 ORFs were assigned to eight subfamilies based on their structures and homological features. Five of these subfamilies consist of 109 proteins, containing transmembrane domains (TM) performing as transporters. The rest three subfamilies contain 21 soluble proteins involved in various functions other than molecular transport. A comparison of ABC proteins among nine selected species revealed either convergence or divergence in each of the ABC subfamilies. Generally, plant genomes contain far more ABC genes than animal genomes. The expression profiles and evolution track of each maize ABC gene were further investigated, the results of which could provide clues for analyzing their functions. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction experiments (PCR) were conducted to detect induced expression in select ABC genes under several common stresses. This investigation provides valuable information for future research on stress tolerance in plants and potential strategies for enhancing maize production under stressful conditions.