What is it about?

This gene codes for a very special protein with extremely high content of three amino acids lysine (K), aspartic acid (E) and glutamic acid (D), therefore called KED. It can be found in all types of plants known in the world. Wounding to plant leaves drastically increases the KED gene activity.

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Why is it important?

We find that this gene is present in all known plants and is responsive to tissue wounding and insect chewing. Thus, it probably has unique evolutionary and physiological roles in plant life, as implicated by its structure and function shared by all plant species. Is it part of survival and thrive strategy of plants in response to ever changing environments?


An average protein in the cell is made of under 20% of these three amino acids combined (K+E+D). But the protein we studied has over 70% K+E+D. Why is it necessary to densely concentrate only these three amino acids in one protein? Furthermore, this protein can be found among all types of plants with similar structural signatures, but not in animals. What does this protein do? Philosophically, we believe “extraordinary composition determines unique structure that dictates special function”. The existence of KED gene must have evolutionary and functional necessity for its existence. Our article attempts to tell a story of its evolution over some 600 million years of plant life on Earth.

Xing-Hai Zhang
Florida Atlantic University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Evolutionary analysis of KED-rich proteins in plants, PLoS ONE, March 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279772.
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