Conservation and evolution in and among SRF- and MEF2-type MADS domains and their binding sites.

Research paper by Wenwu W Wu, Xiaotai X Huang, Jian J Cheng, Zhenggang Z Li, Stefan S de Folter, Zhuoran Z Huang, Xiaoqian X Jiang, Hongxia H Pang, Shiheng S Tao

Indexed on: 21 Aug '10Published on: 21 Aug '10Published in: Molecular biology and evolution


Serum response factor (SRF) and myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) represent two types of members of the MCM1, AGAMOUS, DEFICIENS, and SRF (MADS)-box transcription factor family present in animals and fungi. Each type has distinct biological functions, which are reflected by the distinct specificities of the proteins bound to their cognate DNA-binding sites and activated by their respective cofactors. However, little is known about the evolution of MADS domains and their DNA-binding sites. Here, we report on the conservation and evolution of the two types of MADS domains with their cognate DNA-binding sites by using phylogenetic analyses. First, there are great similarities between the two types of proteins with amino acid positions highly conserved, which are critical for binding to the DNA sequence and for the maintenance of the 3D structure. Second, in contrast to MEF2-type MADS domains, distinct conserved residues are present at some positions in SRF-type MADS domains, determining specificity and the configuration of the MADS domain bound to DNA sequences. Furthermore, the ancestor sequence of SRF- and MEF2-type MADS domains is more similar to MEF2-type MADS domains than to SRF-type MADS domains. In the case of DNA-binding sites, the MEF2 site has a T-rich core in one DNA sequence and an A-rich core in the reverse sequence as compared with the SRF site, no matter whether where either A or T is present in the two complementary sequences. In addition, comparing SRF sites in the human and the mouse genomes reveals that the evolution rate of CArG-boxes is faster in mouse than in human. Moreover, interestingly, a CArG-like sequence, which is probably functionless, could potentially mutate to a functional CArG-box that can be bound by SRF and vice versa. Together, these results significantly improve our knowledge on the conservation and evolution of the MADS domains and their binding sites to date and provide new insights to investigate the MADS family, which is not only on evolution of MADS factors but also on evolution of their binding sites and even on coevolution of MADS factors with their binding sites.