Structural determinants of DNA recognition by plant MADS-domain transcription factors

J.M. Muino Acuna, C. Smaczniak, G.C. Angenent, K. Kaufmann, A.D.J. van Dijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Plant MADS-domain transcription factors act as key regulators of many developmental processes. Despite the wealth of information that exists about these factors, the mechanisms by which they recognize their cognate DNA-binding site, called CArG-box (consensus CCW6GG), and how different MADS-domain proteins achieve DNA-binding specificity, are still largely unknown. We used information from in vivo ChIP-seq experiments, in vitro DNA-binding data and evolutionary conservation to address these important questions. We found that structural characteristics of the DNA play an important role in the DNA binding of plant MADS-domain proteins. The central region of the CArG-box largely resembles a structural motif called ‘A-tract’, which is characterized by a narrow minor groove and may assist bending of the DNA by MADS-domain proteins. Periodically spaced A-tracts outside the CArG-box suggest additional roles for this structure in the process of DNA binding of these transcription factors. Structural characteristics of the CArG-box not only play an important role in DNA-binding site recognition of MADS-domain proteins, but also partly explain differences in DNA-binding specificity of different members of this transcription factor family and their heteromeric complexes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2146
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • in-vitro
  • binding properties
  • flower development
  • antirrhinum-majus
  • homeotic proteins
  • crystal-structure
  • ternary complex
  • floral organs
  • box proteins
  • chip-chip


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