Diversification of the Histone Fold Motif in Plants: Evolution of New Functional Roles
The Histone fold motif (HFM) is one of the most conserved structural motifs in biology, mainly found in the core histone sub-units of all eukaryotes. The HFM represents a helix-strand-helix motif having three alpha helices connected by two loops/beta strands. This helix-strand-helix motif has the unique property of binding strongly with proteins as well as with DNA. Apart from core histones, the HFM has been reported in a variety of other proteins in all forms of life. In this work, we review the various classes of proteins that contain the HFM, as well as the diverse roles played by these proteins in the plant kingdom. As will be clear from this review, formation of the core histones through multi-merisation is not the only role played by this conserved fold, although the characteristic ability of the HFM to dimerize with suitable partner proteins has been used by nature to perform several non-core-histone functions. Most of the information about plant HFM containing proteins, such as identification and classification, has been done based on homology with yeast and animal counterparts. However, the ability of plants genomes to duplicate extensively has led to the existence of large gene families of the HFM containing proteins, unlike other eukaryotes. Plant HFM containing proteins can broadly be classified under the following major categories; TBP-associated factors (TAF), Nuclear Factor Y (NF-Y), Dr1/DrAp1 proteins and the chromatin accessibility complex (CHRAC). These proteins families are known to be involved in transcriptional regulation, co-activation and chromosome maintenance. Partner recognition through dimer formation remains a major conserved feature of these groups when compared with core histone sub-units.
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