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Genome-Wide Identification, Expression Profiling and Protein-Protein Interaction Properties of the BEL-Like Homeodomain Gene Family in Apple

Huifeng Li1, Qiang Zhao2, Hai Wang1, Qinglong Dong3,*, Yi Xu4,*

1 Shandong Institute of Pomology, Tai’an, 271000, China
2 College of Horticulture, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao, 266109, China
3 College of Horticulture, Northwest A and F University, Yangling, 712100, China
4 College of Plant Protection, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, 210095, China

* Corresponding Authors: Qinglong Dong. Email: email; Yi Xu. Email: email

(This article belongs to this Special Issue: Plant Ecophysiology: Recent Trends and Advancements)

Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany 2022, 91(2), 315-331.


BEL1-like homeodomain (BLH) family proteins are homeodomain transcription factors, which are found ubiquitously in plants and play important roles in regulating meristem and flower development. Although BLH proteins have been reported in some plant species, there is very little information available for plants in the Malus genus (e.g., apple tree:Malus domestica). In the present study, we identified 19 apple MdBLH genes. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the MdBLH genes could be divided into five groups. Analysis of gene structure showed that MdBLH gene has four exons, and the third exon was 61 bp in length. Chromosomal location analysis suggested that the MdBLH genes are not distributed uniformly on 12 chromosomes. Eleven MdBLH genes were cloned by RT-PCR, and their expression patterns were also determined. Among them, the expression levels of MdBLH4.1 and MdBLH9.1 could be induced by sodium chloride stress, while the expression levels of MdATH1.1, MdBLH8.1, MdBLH8.3, and MdBLH11.1 were down-regulated by such stress. Transcriptional levels of MdATH1.1 and MdBLH7.2 were down-regulated by mannitol stress. The result of yeast two-hybrid experiment showed that MdBEL1.1 interacted with apple ovate family proteins 6 (MdOFP6), and MdBLH3.1 interacted with the MdOFP4, MdOFP6, MdOFP13, and MdOFP16 proteins. Our results provide a strong theoretical basis and a valuable reference for analyzing of the biological functions of MdBLH proteins as transcription factors in apple growth, development, and stress and also for the construction of regulatory networks.


Cite This Article

Li, H., Zhao, Q., Wang, H., Dong, Q., Xu, Y. (2022). Genome-Wide Identification, Expression Profiling and Protein-Protein Interaction Properties of the BEL-Like Homeodomain Gene Family in Apple. Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany, 91(2), 315–331.


cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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