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Plant J. 2002 Jan;29(1):33-44.

A long leader intron of the Ostub16 rice beta-tubulin gene is required for high-level gene expression and can autonomously promote transcription both in vivo and in vitro.

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Istituto Biosintesi Vegetali, CNR, Via Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy.


A 2 kb DNA fragment, upstream of the rice beta-tubulin isotype 16 (Ostub16) coding sequence, was isolated using inverse PCR and screening of a tubulin-enriched lambda library. An intron (863 bp) present in the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) is spliced out to produce the most abundant mRNA species which corresponds to the previously cloned Ostub16 cDNA. Transient expression assays performed on rice embryogenic calluses with chimeric Ostub16::GUS constructs demonstrated that the entire 2 kb upstream sequence has a strong promoter activity, and that the 863 bp intron is required for high-level GUS expression. In addition, the intron sequence is capable per se of sustaining a weak but consistent GUS expression. Two rare Ostub16 transcripts, with a start site mapping within this intron sequence, were detected in rice coleoptile cells. The transcription start site mapped at position -290 with respect to the ATG codon, and the shorter molecule originated from splicing of the same precursor mRNA. Therefore transcriptional expression of rice beta-tubulin isotype 16 results in the synthesis of two premRNA molecules (I and II) encoding for three different mRNA species. We discuss these findings in terms of function and molecular evolution of the mechanisms that control plant beta-tubulin gene expression.

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