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Eur J Biochem. 1979 Dec;102(1):211-22.

Genes and mRNAs coding for zein polypeptides in Zea mays.


Zein messenger RNAs from maize endosperm were purified by successive oligo(dT)-cellulose chromatography and sucrose gradient centrifugation. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis under denaturing conditions revealed the presence of two size classes of zein messenger RNAs of Mr 3.5 x 10(5) and 4.10 x 10(5). The mRNA was shown to synthesize the major zein polypeptides, to have a base composition characteristic of a poly(A)-containing RNA and to be transcribed by reverse transcriptase into complementary DNA. The r0t1/2 of the hybridization curve of cDNA hybridized to an excess of mRNA was shown to be 7 x 10(-2) M . s indicating that about 15 non-cross-hybridizing sequences are present in the zein mRNA preparations. The kinetics of cDNA annealing with an excess of maize DNA from 2 n cells suggest a ten-times reiteration of each mRNA sequence. This result is confirmed from saturation experiments, where in cDNA excess to DNA, the number of zein genes per haploid maize genome was estimated as about 120 copies. Similar experiments carried out on DNA from normal and mutant endosperms (3n cells) indicate the absence of large amplifications or deletions of zein genes in the tissue devoted to zein synthesis.

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