In the sequences released by the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI), we have discovered a new large gene family (48 genes as of July 2000). A detailed computational and biochemical analysis of the predicted gene products reveals a novel family of plant F-box proteins, where the amino (N)-terminal F-box motif is followed by four kelch repeats and a characteristic carboxy-terminal domain. F-box proteins are an expanding family of eukaryotic proteins, which have been shown in some cases to be critical for the controlled degradation of cellular regulatory proteins via the ubiquitin pathway. The F-box motif of the At5g48990 gene product, a member of the family, was shown to be functionally active by its ability to mediate the in vitro interaction between At5g48990 and ASK1 proteins. F-box proteins specifically recruit the targets to be ubiquitinated, mainly through protein-protein interaction modules such as WD-40 domains or leucine-rich repeats (LRRs). The kelch repeats of the family described here form a potential protein-protein interaction domain, as molecular modelling of the kelch repeats according to the galactose oxidase crystal structure (the only solved structure containing kelch repeats) predicts a β-propeller. The identification of this family of F-box proteins greatly expands the field of plant F-box proteins and suggests that controlled degradation of cellular proteins via the ubiquitin pathway could play a critical role in multiple plant cellular processes.
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