The evolution and diversification of plant microtubule-associated proteins


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Plant evolution is marked by major advances in structural characteristics that facilitated the highly successful colonization of dry land. Underlying these advances is the evolution of genes encoding specialized proteins that form novel microtubular arrays of the cytoskeleton. This review investigates the evolution of plant families of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) through the recently sequenced genomes of Arabidopsis thaliana, Oryza sativa, Selaginella moellendorffii, Physcomitrella patens, Volvox carteri and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The families of MAPs examined are AIR9, CLASP, CRIPT, MAP18, MOR1, TON, EB1, AtMAP70, SPR2, SPR1, WVD2 and MAP65 families (abbreviations are defined in the footnote to Table 1). Conjectures are made regarding the evolution of MAPs in plants in relation to the evolution of multicellularity, oriented cell division and vasculature. Angiosperms in particular have high numbers of proteins that are involved in promotion of helical growth or its suppression, and novel plant microtubular structures may have acted as a catalyst for the development of novel plant MAPs. Comparisons of plant MAP gene families with those of animals show that animals may have more flexibility in the structure of their microtubule cytoskeletons than plants, but with both plants and animals possessing many MAP splice variants.