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Structural evolution drives diversification of the large LRR-RLK gene family

Cite this dataset

Man, Jarrett; Gallagher, Joseph Gallagher; Bartlett, Madelaine (2020). Structural evolution drives diversification of the large LRR-RLK gene family [Dataset]. Dryad.


Cells are continuously exposed to chemical signals that they must discriminate between and respond to appropriately. In embryophytes, the Leucine-Rich Repeat Receptor-Like Kinases (LRR-RLKs) are signal receptors critical in development and defense. LRR-RLKs have diversified to hundreds of genes in many plant genomes. Although intensively studied, a well-resolved LRR-RLK gene tree has remained elusive. 

To resolve the LRR-RLK gene tree, we developed an improved gene discovery method based on iterative Hidden Markov Model (HMM)-searching and phylogenetic inference. We used this method to infer complete gene trees for each of the LRR-RLK subclades, and reconstructed the deepest nodes of the full gene family.

We discovered that the LRR-RLK gene family is even larger than previously thought, and that protein domain gains and losses are prevalent. These structural modifications, some of which likely predate embryophyte diversification, led to misclassification of some LRR-RLK variants as members of other gene families. Our work corrects this misclassification.

Our results reveal ongoing structural evolution generating novel LRR-RLK genes. These new genes are raw material for the diversification of signaling in development and defense. Our methods also enable phylogenetic reconstruction in any large gene family.


National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1546837