Background FYVE domains have emerged as membrane-targeting domains highly specific for phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P). They are predominantly found in proteins involved in various trafficking pathways. Although FYVE domains may function as individual modules, dimers or in partnership with other proteins, structurally, all FYVE domains share a fold comprising two small characteristic double-stranded β-sheets, and a C-terminal α-helix, which houses eight conserved Zn2+ ion-binding cysteines. To date, the structural, biochemical, and biophysical mechanisms for subcellular targeting of FYVE domains for proteins from various model organisms have been worked out but plant FYVE domains remain noticeably under-investigated.
Results We carried out an extensive examination of all Arabidopsis FYVE domains, including their identification, classification, molecular modeling and biophysical characterization using computational approaches. Our classification of fifteen Arabidopsis FYVE proteins at the outset reveals unique domain architectures for FYVE containing proteins, which are not paralleled in other organisms. Detailed sequence analysis and biophysical characterization of the structural models are used to predict membrane interaction mechanisms previously described for other FYVE domains and their subtle variations as well as novel mechanisms that seem to be specific to plants.
Conclusions Our study contributes to the understanding of the molecular basis of FYVE-based membrane targeting in plants on a genomic scale. The results show that FYVE domain containing proteins in plants have evolved to incorporate significant differences from those in other organisms implying that they play a unique role in plant signaling pathways and/or play similar/parallel roles in signaling to other organisms but use different protein players/signaling mechanisms.