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Plant Cell. 1989 Mar;1(3):313-28.

Characterization of the glycinin gene family in soybean.

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Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907.


We characterized the structure, organization, and expression of genes that encode the soybean glycinins, a family of storage proteins synthesized exclusively in seeds during embryogenesis. Five genes encode the predominant glycinin subunits found in soybeans, and they have each been cloned, sequenced, and compared. The five genes have diverged into two subfamilies that are designated as Group-I and Group-II glycinin genes. Each glycinin gene contains four exons and three introns like genes that encode related proteins in other legumes. Two other genes have been identified and designated as "glycinin-related" because they hybridize weakly with the five glycinin genes. Although not yet characterized, glycinin-related genes could encode other glycinin subunit families whose members accumulate in minor amounts in seeds. The three Group-I glycinin genes are organized into two chromosomal domains, each about 45 kilobase pairs in length. The two domains have a high degree of homology, and contain at least five genes each that are expressed either in embryos or in mature plant leaves. Gel blot studies with embryo mRNA, as well as transcription studies with 32P-RNA synthesized in vitro from purified embryo nuclei, indicate that glycinin and glycinin-related genes become transcriptionally activated in a coordinated fashion early in embryogenesis, and are repressed coordinately late in seed development. In addition to transcriptional control processes, posttranscriptional events also are involved in regulating glycinin and glycinin-related mRNA levels during embryogenesis.

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