AP2/ERF domain (IPR001471)

Short name: AP2/ERF_dom

Overlapping homologous superfamilies

Domain relationships



Ethylene is an endogenous plant hormone that influences many aspects of plant growth and development. Some defense related genes that are induced by ethylene contain a cis-regulatory element known as the Ethylene-Responsive Element (ERE) [PMID: 2535512]. Sequence analysis on various ERE regions has identified a short motif rich in G/C nucleotides, the GCC-box, essential for the response to ethylene. This short motif is recognised by a family of transcrition factors, the ERE binding factors (ERF) [PMID: 10715325].

ERF proteins contain a domain of around 60 amino acids which is also found in the APETALA2 (AP2) protein [PMID: 7773013]. This AP2/ERF domain has been shown in various proteins to be necessary and sufficient to bind the GCC-box [PMID: 9756931].

The structure of the AP2/ERF domain in complex with the target DNA has been solved [PMID: 9736626]. The structure resembles that of bacteriophage integrases and the methyl-CpG-binding domain (MBD): a three-stranded beta-sheet and an alpha helix almost parallel to the beta-sheet. It contacts DNA via Arg and Trp residues located in the beta-sheet.

Some proteins known to contain an AP2/ERF domain include:

  • Arabidopsis thaliana ERF1 to 6.
  • Tobacco ethylene-responsive element-binding proteins (EREBPs), homologues of ERF proteins.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana AP2 protein. It regulates meristeme identity, floral organ specification and seed coat development.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana C-repeat/dehydration-responsive element (DRE) binding factor 1 (CBF1 or DREB1) and DREB2. They bind a GCC-box-like element found in dehydratation responsive element. Binding to this element mediates cold-inducible transcription.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana and maize abscisic acid (ABA)-insensitive 4 (ABI4) proteins. They bind to a GCC-box-like element found in ABA-responsive genes.
  • Octadecanoid-derivative responsive catharenthus AP2-domain (ORCA2) protein. It binds a GCC-box-like element in the jasmonate responsive element of Str promoter.
  • Tomato Pto-interacting proteins 4 to 6 (Pti4 to Pti6). Pti5 and 6 bind a GCC-box-like element in regulatory regions of various pathogenesis-related (PR) genes.
  • Trichodesmium erythraeum, Tetrahymena thermophila, Enterobacteria phage RB49 and bacteriophage Felix 01 HNH endonucleases. HNH endonucleases are homing endonucleases that move extensively via lateral gene transfer [PMID: 15319480].

This entry represents the AP2/ERF domain.

GO terms

Biological Process

GO:0006355 regulation of transcription, DNA-templated

Molecular Function

GO:0003700 DNA-binding transcription factor activity

Cellular Component

No terms assigned in this category.

Contributing signatures

Signatures from InterPro member databases are used to construct an entry.
PROSITE profiles