We previously isolated a DNA fragment from Arabidopsis thaliana homologous to the mammalian ras gene and named it ara [Matsui et al., Gene 76 (1989) 313-319]. Screening of cDNA clones homologous to ara in A. thaliana resulted in the isolation of four homologous genes. The products of these genes, ARA-2, ARA-3, ARA-4 and ARA-5, showed conservation of amino acids (aa) in four regions, all of which are present in small GTP-binding proteins, and are important for GTPase/GTP-binding activities. These products were highly homologous to those of the YPT genes of taccharomyces cerevisiae and the ypt gene of Schizosaccharomyces pombe in the regions around aa 45, which is thought to be the site interacting with effector molecules. The products of these four genes showed characteristic aa sequence at their C termini, Cys-Cys-Xaa-Xaa. Another characteristic of this family is presence of Ser in place of Gly in the first conserved region (Gly12 of mammalian GTP-binding Ras protein).
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