HD-Zip proteins are unique to plants, and contain a homeodomain closely linked to a leucine zipper motif, which are involved in dimerization and DNA binding. Based on homology in the HD-Zip domain, gene structure and the presence of additional motifs, HD-Zips are divided into four families, HD-Zip I–IV. Phylogenetic analysis of HD-Zip
genes using transcriptomic and genomic datasets from a wide range of plant species indicate that the HD-Zip protein class was already present in green algae. Later, HD-Zips
experienced multiple duplication events that promoted neo- and sub-functionalizations. HD-Zip proteins are known to control key developmental and environmental responses, and a growing body of evidence indicates a strict link between members of the HD-Zip II and III families and the auxin machineries. Interactions of HD-Zip proteins with other hormones such as brassinolide and cytokinin have also been described. More recent data indicate that members of different HD-Zip families are directly involved in the regulation of abscisic acid (ABA) homeostasis and signaling. Considering the fundamental role of specific HD-Zip proteins in the control of key developmental pathways and in the cross-talk between auxin and cytokinin, a relevant role of these factors in adjusting plant growth and development to changing environment is emerging.
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