Evidence for sub-functionalization of tandemly duplicated XPB nucleotide excision repair genes in Arabidopsis thaliana
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Plants are continuously exposed to agents that can generate DNA lesions. Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) is one of the repair pathways employed by plants to protect their genome, including from sunlight. The Xeroderma Pigmentosum type B (XPB) protein is a DNA helicase shown to be involved in NER and is also an essential subunit of the Transcription Factor IIH (TFIIH) complex. XPB was found to be a single copy gene in eukaryotes, but found as a tandem duplication in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, AtXPB1 and AtXPB2. We aimed to investigate whether the XPB in tandem duplication was common within members of the Brassicaceae. We analyzed genomic DNA of species from different tribes of the family and the results indicate that the tandem duplication occurred in Camelineae tribe ancestor, of which A. thaliana belongs, at approximately 8 million years ago. Further experiments were devised to study possible functional roles for the A. thaliana AtXPB paralogs. A non-coincident expression profile of the paralogs was observed in various plant organs, developmental and cell cycle stages. AtXPB2 expression was observed in proliferating cells and clustered with the transcription of other components of the TFIIH such as p44, p52 and XPD/UVH6 along the cell cycle. AtXPB1 gene transcription, on the other hand, was enhanced specifically after UV-B irradiation in leaf trichomes. Altogether, our results reported herein suggest a functional specialization for the AtXPB paralogs: while the AtXPB2 paralog may have a role in cell proliferation and repair as XPB of other eukaryotes, the AtXPB1 paralog is most likely implicated in repair functions in highly specialized A. thaliana cells.