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Plant Cell. 1991 Mar;3(3):225-45.

Molecular mechanisms underlying the differential expression of maize pyruvate, orthophosphate dikinase genes.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


I describe here the organization of maize C4 chloroplast and non-C4 cytosolic pyruvate, orthophosphate dikinase (PPDK) genes and the molecular mechanisms underlying their differential expression. The maize C4 chloroplast PPDK gene (C4ppdkZm1) appears to have been created by the addition of an exon encoding the chloroplast transit peptide at a site upstream of a cytosolic PPDK gene (cyppdkZm1). A splice acceptor sequence located in the first exon of cyppdkZm1 allows the fusion of the transit peptide to the cyppdkZm1 sequences. A second cyPPDK gene (cyppdkZm2) shares extensive homology with cyppdkZm1 in the coding region and in the 5' flanking region up to the TATA box. By a novel protoplast transient expression method, I show that the light-inducible expression of C4ppdkZm1 is controlled by two expression programs mediated through separate upstream regulatory elements that are active in leaf, but inactive in root and stem. Light-mediated C4ppdkZm1 expression in maize is apparently uncoupled from leaf development and partially associated with chloroplast development. For cyppdkZm1 expression, distinct upstream elements and a specific TATA promoter element, located in the first intron of C4ppdkZm1, are required. The low expression of cyppdkZm2 can be attributed to an absence of upstream positive elements and weak activity of the TATA promoter element.

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