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Plant Cell Physiol. 2011 Oct;52(10):1719-33. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcr114. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Expression profile of maize (Zea mays L.) embryonic axes during germination: translational regulation of ribosomal protein mRNAs.

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Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Chemistry, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), Ciudad Universitaria, 04510 Mexico, D.F. México.


Seed germination is a critical developmental period for plant propagation. Information regarding gene expression within this important period is relevant for understanding the main biochemical processes required for successful germination, particularly in maize, one of the most important cereals in the world. The present research focuses on the global microarray analysis of differential gene expression between quiescent and germinated maize embryo stages. This analysis revealed that a large number of mRNAs stored in the quiescent embryonic axes (QEAs) were differentially regulated during germination in the 24 h germinated embryonic axes (GEAs). These genes belong to 14 different functional categories and most of them correspond to metabolic processes, followed by transport, transcription and translation. Interestingly, the expression of mRNAs encoding ribosomal proteins [(r)-proteins], required for new ribosome formation during this fast-growing period, remains mostly unchanged throughout the germination process, suggesting that these genes are not regulated at the transcriptional level during this developmental period. To investigate this issue further, comparative microarray analyses on polysomal mRNAs from growth-stimulated and non-stimulated GEAs were performed. The results revealed that (r)-protein mRNAs accumulate to high levels in polysomes of the growth-stimulated tissues, indicating a translational control mechanism to account for the rapid (r)-protein synthesis observed within this period. Bioinformatic analysis of (r)-protein mRNAs showed that 5' TOP (tract of pyrimidines)-like sequences are present only in the 5'-untranslated region set of up-regulated (r)-protein mRNAs. This overall approach to the germination process allows an in-depth view of molecular changes, enabling a broader understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that occur during this process.

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