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J Exp Bot. 2017 Jan;68(2):311-320. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw475. Epub 2016 Dec 30.

A MEM1-like motif directs mesophyll cell-specific expression of the gene encoding the C4 carbonic anhydrase in Flaveria.

Author information

Institute of Plant Molecular and Developmental Biology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, Plant Science Division, Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia.
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia


The first two reactions of C4 photosynthesis are catalysed by carbonic anhydrase (CA) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) in the leaf mesophyll (M) cell cytosol. Translatome experiments using a tagged ribosomal protein expressed under the control of M and bundle-sheath (BS) cell-specific promoters showed transcripts encoding CA3 from the C4 species Flaveria bidentis were highly enriched in polysomes from M cells relative to those of the BS. Localisation experiments employing a CA3-green fluorescent protein fusion protein showed F. bidentis CA3 is a cytosolic enzyme. A motif showing high sequence homology to that of the Flaveria M expression module 1 (MEM1) element was identified approximately 2 kb upstream of the F. bidentis and F. trinervia ca3 translation start sites. MEM1 is located in the promoter of C4 Flaveria ppcA genes, which encode the C4-associated PEPC, and is necessary for M-specific expression. No MEM1-like sequence was found in the 4 kb upstream of the C3 species F. pringlei ca3 translation start site. Promoter-reporter fusion experiments demonstrated the region containing the ca3 MEM1-like element also directs M-specific expression. These results support the idea that a common regulatory switch drives the expression of the C4 Flaveria ca3 and ppcA1 genes specifically in M cells.


Flaveria ; C4 photosynthesis; MEM1; carbonic anhydrase; evolution of C4 photosynthesis; gene expression; mesophyll cell expression; translatome.

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