PROSITE documentation PDOC51005
NAC domain profile


The NAC domain (for petunia NAM and Arabidopsis ATAF1, ATAF2, and CUC2) is an N-terminal module of ~160 amino acids, which is found in proteins of the NAC family of plant-specific transcriptional regulators [1]. NAC proteins are involved in developmental processes, including formation of the shoot apical meristem, floral organs and lateral shoots, as well as in plant hormonal control and defence. The NAC domain is accompanied by diverse C-terminal transcriptional activation domains. The NAC domain has been shown to be a DNA-binding domain (DBD) and a dimerization domain [2,3].

The NAC domain can be subdivided into five subdomains (A-E). Each subdomain is distinguishable by blocks of heterogeneous amino acids or gaps. While the NAC domains were rich in basic amino acids (R, K and H) as a whole, the distribution of positive and negative amino acids in each subdomain were unequal. Subdomains C and D are rich in basic amino acids but poor in acidic amino acids, while subdomain B contains a high proportion of acidic amino acids. Putative nuclear localization signals (NLS) have been detected in subdomains C and D [4]. The DBD is contained within a 60 amino acid region located within subdomains D and E [3]. The overall structure of the NAC domain monomer consists of a very twisted antiparallel β-sheet, which packs against an N-terminal α-helix on one side and one shorter helix on the other side surrounded by a few helical elements (see <PDB:1UT7>). The structure suggests that the NAC domain mediates dimerization through conserved interactions including a salt bridge, and DNA binding through the NAC dimer face rich in positive charges [5].

Some proteins known to contain a NAC domain are listed below:

  • Petunia NO APICAL MERISTEM (NAM). It acts in the development of embryos and flowers.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON2 (CUC2).
  • Arabidopsis thaliana ATAF1 and ATAF2.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana AtNAM, a transcription factor.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana NAC1. It is involved in root development.
  • Arabidopsis thaliana NAP (NAC-LIKE, ACTIVATED BY AP3/PI).
  • Rice proteins with a NAC domain (OsNACs).
  • Brassica napus proteins with a NAC domain (BnNACs).

The profile we developed covers the entire NAC domain.

Last update:

July 2004 / First entry.


Technical section

PROSITE method (with tools and information) covered by this documentation:

NAC, PS51005; NAC domain profile  (MATRIX)


1AuthorsAida M. Ishida T. Fukaki H. Fujisawa H. Tasaka M.
TitleGenes involved in organ separation in Arabidopsis: an analysis of the cup-shaped cotyledon mutant.
SourcePlant Cell 9:841-857(1997).
PubMed ID9212461

2AuthorsXie Q. Frugis G. Colgan D. Chua N.-H.
TitleArabidopsis NAC1 transduces auxin signal downstream of TIR1 to promote lateral root development.
SourceGenes Dev. 14:3024-3036(2000).
PubMed ID11114891

3AuthorsDuval M. Hsieh T.-F. Kim S.Y. Thomas T.L.
TitleMolecular characterization of AtNAM: a member of the Arabidopsis NAC domain superfamily.
SourcePlant Mol. Biol. 50:237-248(2002).
PubMed ID12175016

4AuthorsKikuchi K. Ueguchi-Tanaka M. Yoshida K.T. Nagato Y. Matsusoka M.
TitleHirano H.-Y.; Molecular analysis of the NAC gene family in rice.
SourceMol. Gen. Genet. 262:1047-1051(2000).
PubMed ID10660065

5AuthorsErnst H.A. Olsen A.N. Skriver K. Larsen S. Lo Leggio L.L.
TitleStructure of the conserved domain of ANAC, a member of the NAC family of transcription factors.
SourceEMBO Rep. 5:297-303(2004).
PubMed ID15083810

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