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Dev Genet. 1993;14(1):27-41.

Characterization of two maize HSP90 heat shock protein genes: expression during heat shock, embryogenesis, and pollen development.

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Plant Biotechnology Department, Sandoz Agro, Inc., Palo Alto, California 94304.


We have isolated two genes from Zea mays encoding proteins of 82 and 81 kD that are highly homologous to the Drosophila 83-kD heat shock protein gene and have analyzed the structure and pattern of expression of these two genes during heat shock and development. Southern blot analysis and hybrid select translations indicate that the highly homologous hsp82 and hsp81 genes are members of a small multigene family composed of at least two and perhaps three or more gene family members. The deduced amino acid sequence of these proteins based on the nucleotide sequence of the coding regions shows 64-88% amino acid homology to other hsp90 family genes from human, yeast, Drosophila, and Arabidopsis. The promoter regions of both the hsp82 and hsp81 genes contain several heat shock elements (HSEs), which are putative binding sites for heat shock transcription factor (HSF) commonly found in the promoters of other heat shock genes. Gene-specific oligonucleotide probes were synthesized and used to examine the mRNA expression patterns of the hsp81 and hsp82 genes during heat shock, embryogenesis, and pollen development. The hsp81 gene is only mildly heat inducible in leaf tissue, but is strongly expressed in the absence of heat shock during the pre-meiotic and meiotic prophase stages of pollen development and in embryos, as well as in heat-shocked embryos and tassels. The hsp82 gene shows strong heat inducibility at heat-shock temperatures (37-42 degrees C) and in heat shocked embryos and tassels but is only weakly expressed in the absence of heat shock. Promoter-GUS reporter gene fusions made and analyzed by transient expression assays in Black Mexican Sweet (BMS) Maize protoplasts also indicate that the hsp82 and hsp81 are regulated differentially. The hsp82 promoter confers strong heat-inducible expression of the GUS reporter gene in heat-treated cells (60- to 80-fold over control levels), whereas the hsp81 promoter is only weakly heat inducible (5- to 10-fold over control levels).

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