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Plant Mol Biol. 1998 May;37(2):319-35.

The molecular basis of C4 photosynthesis in sorghum: isolation, characterization and RFLP mapping of mesophyll- and bundle-sheath-specific cDNAs obtained by differential screening.

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  • 1Institut für Entwicklungs- und Molekularbiologie der Pflanzen, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany.


C4 photosynthesis depends upon the strict compartmentalization of the CO2-assimilatory enzymes of the C4 and Calvin cycle in two different cell types, mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells. A differential accumulation is also observed for enzymes of other metabolic pathways, and mesophyll and bundle-sheath chloroplasts of NADP-malic enzyme type C4 plants differ even in their photosynthetic electron transport chains. A large number of studies indicate that this division of labour between mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells is the result of differential gene expression. To investigate the extent of this differential gene expression and thus gain insight into the genetic basis of C4 photosynthesis, genes that are differentially expressed in the mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells were catalogued in the NADP-malic enzyme type C4 grass Sorghum bicolor. A total of 58 cDNAs were isolated by differential screening. Using a tenfold difference in transcript abundance between mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells as a criterion, 25 cDNAs were confirmed to encode mesophyll-specific gene sequences and 8 were found to encode bundle-sheath-specific sequences. Eight mesophyll-specific cDNAs showed no significant similarities within GenBank and may therefore represent candidates for the elucidation of hitherto unknown functions in the differentiation of mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells. The chromosomal location of 50 isolated cDNAs was determined by RFLP mapping using an interspecific sorghum cross.

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