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Plant Mol Biol. 1999 Mar;39(5):1063-71.

A transcript encoding translation initiation factor eIF-5A is stored in unfertilized egg cells of maize.

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Applied Plant Molecular Biology II, University of Hamburg, Germany.


Differential screening of cDNA libraries of unfertilized egg cells and in vitro zygotes of maize resulted in the isolation of more than 50 different genes whose expression is up- or down-regulated after in vitro fertilization (IVF). Among these genes, we identified a cDNA encoding the eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF-5A. This highly conserved factor is thought to be necessary for selective mRNA stabilization and translation. It is also the only known protein that contains the unusual amino acid hypusine which is required for biological activity. High transcript amounts are stored in the egg cell, which is, in terms of metabolism, relatively inactive. Upon fertilization transcript amounts decrease, in contrast to metabolically inactive embryos in which the transcript cannot be detected and transcript levels increase upon germination. The expression pattern during the first embryonic cell cycle is also different from that observed during the somatic cell cycle: egg cells in the G0 phase contain high transcript levels, while arrested suspension cells contain few transcripts. In the somatic cell cycle, eif-5A is strongly induced during the G1 phase and transcripts are continuously degraded during the S, G2 and M phases until new induction during the G1 phase of the next cycle. eif-5A, a member of a small gene family in maize, is expressed in most maize tissues investigated. Based on our results, we suggest that the unfertilized egg cell of maize, although relatively inactive regarding its metabolism, is prepared for selective mRNA translation that is quickly triggered after fertilization. We also suggest that the regulation of eif-5A in the first embryonic cell cycle is different from the somatic cell cycle.

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