The protein encoded by the TERMINAL FLOWER1 (TFL1) gene maintains indeterminacy in inflorescence meristem to repress flowering, and has undergone multiple duplications. However, basal angiosperms have one copy of a TFL1-like gene, which clusters with eudicot TFL1/CEN paralogs. Functional conservation has been reported in the paralogs CENTRORADIALIS (CEN) in eudicots, and ROOTS CURL IN NPA (RCNs) genes in monocots. In this study, long-term functional conservation and selective constraints were found between angiosperms, while the relaxation of selective constraints led to subfunctionalisation between paralogs. Long intron lengths of magnoliid TFL1-like gene contain more conserved motifs that potentially regulate TFL1/CEN/RCNs expression. These might be relevant to the functional flexibility of the non-duplicate TFL1-like gene in the basal angiosperms in comparison with the short, lower frequency intron lengths in eudicot and monocot TFL1/CEN/RCNs paralogs. The functionally conserved duplicates of eudicots and monocots evolved according to the duplication-degeneration-complementation model, avoiding redundancy by relaxation of selective constraints on exon 1 and exon 4. These data suggest that strong purifying selection has maintained the relevant functions of TFL1/CEN/RCNs paralogs on flowering regulation throughout the evolution of angiosperms, and the shorter introns with radical amino acid changes are important for the retention of paralogous duplicates.
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