Rapid divergence of prolamin gene promoters of maize after gene amplification and dispersal

Wu, Y, Messing J.  2012.  



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Seeds have evolved to accommodate complicated processes like senescence, dormancy, and germination. Central to these is the storage of carbohydrates and proteins derived from sugars and amino acids synthesized during photosynthesis. In the grasses, the bulk of amino acids is stored in the prolamin superfamily that specifically accumulates in seed endosperm during senescence. Their promoters contain a conserved cis-element, called prolamin-box (P-box), recognized by the trans-activator P-box binding factor (PBF). Because of the lack of null mutants in all grass species, its physiological role in storage-protein gene expression has been elusive. In contrast, a null mutant of another endosperm-specific trans-activator Opaque2 (O2) has been shown to be required for the transcriptional activation of subsets of this superfamily by binding to the O2 box. Here, we used RNAi to knockdown Pbf expression and found that only 27-kDa gamma- and 22-kDa alpha-zein gene expression were affected, whereas the level of other zeins remained unchanged. Still, transgenic seeds had an opaque seed phenotype. Combination of PbfRNAi and o2 resulted in further reduction of alpha-zein expression. We also tested the interaction of promoters and constitutively expressed PBF and O2. Whereas transgenic promoters could be activated, endogenous promoters appeared to be not accessible to transcriptional activation, presumably due to differential chromatin states. Although analysis of the methylation of binding sites of PBF and O2 correlated with the expression of endogenous 22-kDa alpha-zein promoters, a different mechanism seems to apply to the 27-kDa gamma-zein promoter, which does not undergo methylation changes.


Wu, YongruiMessing, JoachimengResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov't2012/07/17 06:00Genetics. 2012 Oct;192(2):507-19. doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.142372. Epub 2012 Jul 13.

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Wu, Y, Messing J.  2012.  Rapid divergence of prolamin gene promoters of maize after gene amplification and dispersal. Genetics. 192:507-19.