C2C2-GATA Family from Maize

Required domains for C2C2-GATA family:PF00320

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The C2C2-GATA (GATA-binding factor) domain (PF00320) uses four cysteine residues (Cys-X2-Cys-X17-Cys-X2-Cys) to coordinate a zinc ion and this domain binds to DNA. Two GATA zinc fingers are found in the GATA transcription factors. However there are several proteins which only contain a single copy of the domain. GATAs are a class of DNA binding proteins widely existing in fungi, animals and plants, and is a member of the type IV zinc finger family.  Some members of the TIFY (TIF [F/Y]XG) domain protein family (Pfam accession number PF06200) contain a single  C2C2-GATA zinc-finger binding domain (Bai et al., 2011).

The founding member of this family was discovered as a protein (erythroid-specific factor - Eryf1) that binds to an enhancer in the 3’ region of chicken globin genes (Evans et al., 1988). The family is named for the GATA sequence within the target element (T/A(GATA)A/G), on the expression-regulating sites of its target genes.  In humans the  N-terminus zinc fingers of GATA1 interacts with an essential TF-regulating nuclear protein named FOG1 (friend of GATA protein 1) which in turn is a mult-itype Zn finger protein with nine putative zinc fingers (Tsang et al 1997). The first 3D (NMR) structure of this domain was defined for the complex between the DNA binding domain of the chicken erythroid transcription factor GATA-1 and its cognate DNA site. The DNA binding domain consists of a core which contains a zinc coordinated by four cysteines and a carboxyl-terminal tail. The core is composed of two irregular antiparallel beta sheets and an alpha helix, followed by a long loop that leads into the carboxyl-terminal tail.

In plants the first GATA transcription factor NTL1 was found in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and subsequently in all plant species (Feng et al., 2022).  Overall plant GATA TFs have various roles like the chloroplast development, photosynthesis and growth, seed dormancy, host immune response, Grain shape, and abiotic stress (Feng et al., 2022). Many light-responsive promoters contain GATA motifs and a number of nuclear proteins have been defined that interact with these elements. A genome-wide scan of the maize genome revealed at least 38 GATA TFs all of which could be localized to the nucleus (Jiang et al., 2020).  A QTL study of Striga resistance in maize revealed several candidate genes of which two (GRMZM2G077002 and GRMZM2G404973) encode GATA transcription factors (Badu-Apraku et al., 2023).

Last updated June 2023 by John Gray


Evans T, Reitman M, Felsenfeld G. An erythrocyte-specific DNA-binding factor recognizes a regulatory sequence common to all chicken globin genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Aug;85(16):5976-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.85.16.5976. PMID: 3413070; PMCID: PMC281888.

Tsang AP, Visvader JE, Turner CA, Fujiwara Y, Yu C, Weiss MJ, Crossley M, Orkin SH. FOG, a multitype zinc finger protein, acts as a cofactor for transcription factor GATA-1 in erythroid and megakaryocytic differentiation. Cell. 1997 Jul 11;90(1):109-19. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80318-9. PMID: 9230307.

Feng X, Yu Q, Zeng J, He X, Liu W. Genome-wide identification and characterization of GATA family genes in wheat. BMC Plant Biol. 2022 Jul 27;22(1):372. doi: 10.1186/s12870-022-03733-3. PMID: 35896980; PMCID: PMC9327314.

Bai Y, Meng Y, Huang D, Qi Y, Chen M. Origin and evolutionary analysis of the plant-specific TIFY transcription factor family. Genomics. 2011 Aug;98(2):128-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2011.05.002. Epub 2011 May 15. PMID: 21616136.

Jiang, L., Yu, X., Chen, D., Feng, H., & Li, J. (2020). Identification, phylogenetic evolution and expression analysis of GATA transcription factor family in maize (Zea mays). International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, 23(3), 637-643.

Badu-Apraku B, Adewale S, Paterne A, Offornedo Q, Gedil M. Mapping quantitative trait loci and predicting candidate genes for Striga resistance in maize using resistance donor line derived from Zea diploperennis. Front Genet. 2023 Jan 12;14:1012460. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2023.1012460. PMID: 36713079; PMCID: PMC9877281.



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