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Plant Physiol. 2000 Aug;123(4):1313-24.

A comparative analysis of the plant cellulose synthase (CesA) gene family.

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  • 1Section of Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


CesA genes are believed to encode the catalytic subunit of cellulose synthase. Identification of nine distinct CesA cDNAs from maize (Zea mays) has allowed us to initiate comparative studies with homologs from Arabidopsis and other plant species. Mapping studies show that closely related CesA genes are not clustered but are found at different chromosomal locations in both Arabidopsis and maize. Furthermore, sequence comparisons among the CesA-deduced proteins show that these cluster in groups wherein orthologs are often more similar than paralogs, indicating that different subclasses evolved prior to the divergence of the monocot and dicot lineages. Studies using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction with gene-specific primers for six of the nine maize genes indicate that all genes are expressed to at least some level in all of the organs examined. However, when expression patterns for a few selected genes from maize and Arabidopsis were analyzed in more detail, they were found to be expressed in unique cell types engaged in either primary or secondary wall synthesis. These studies also indicate that amino acid sequence comparisons, at least in some cases, may have value for prediction of such patterns of gene expression. Such analyses begin to provide insights useful for future genetic engineering of cellulose deposition, in that identification of close orthologs across species may prove useful for prediction of patterns of gene expression and may also aid in prediction of mutant combinations that may be necessary to generate severe phenotypes.

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