• asymmetric evolution;
  • duplicate genes;
  • NF-Y transcription factor;
  • plant genomes


  • • 
    NF-Y is a ubiquitous CCAAT-binding factor composed of NF-YA, NF-YB and NF-YC. Multiple genes encoding NF-Y subunits have been identified in plant genomes. It remains unclear whether the duplicate genes underwent different evolutionary patterns.
  • • 
    Likelihood-ratio tests were used to examine whether the amino acid substitution rates are the same between duplicate genes. The influences of selection on evolution were evaluated by comparing the conservative and radical amino acid substitution rates, as well as maximum-likelihood analysis.
  • • 
    Some NF-YB and NF-YC duplicates showed significant evidence of asymmetric evolution but not the NF-YA duplicates. Most amino acid replacements in the NF-YB and NF-YC duplicates result in changes in hydropathy, polar requirement and polarity. The physicochemical changes in the sequences of NF-YB seem to be coupled to asymmetric divergence in gene function.
  • • 
    Plant NF-Y genes have evolved in different patterns. Relaxed selective constraints following gene duplication are most likely responsible for the unequal evolutionary rates and distinct divergence patterns of duplicate NF-Y genes. Positive selection may have promoted amino acid hydropathy changes in the NF-YC duplicates.