The promoter of rbcS in a C3 plant (rice) directs organ-specific, light-dependent expression in a C4 plant (maize), but does not confer bundle sheath cell-specific expression

Research paper by Mika Nomura, Kenichi Katayama, Asuka Nishimura, Yuji Ishida, Shozo Ohta, Toshihiko Komari, Mitsue Miyao-Tokutomi, Shigeyuki Tajima, Makoto Matsuoka

Indexed on: 01 Sep '00Published on: 01 Sep '00Published in: Plant Molecular Biology


The small subunit of ribulose-bisphosphate carboxylase (Rubisco), encoded by rbcS, is essential for photosynthesis in both C3 and C4 plants, even though the cell specificity of rbcS expression is different between C3 and C4 plants. The C3 rbcS is specifically expressed in mesophyll cells, while the C4 rbcS is expressed in bundle sheath cells, and not mesophyll cells. Two chimeric genes were constructed consisting of the structural gene encoding β-glucuronidase (GUS) controlled by the two promoters from maize (C4) and rice (C3) rbcS genes. These constructs were introduced into a C4 plant, maize. Both chimeric genes were specifically expressed in photosynthetic organs, such as leaf blade, but not in non-photosynthetic organs. The expressions of the genes were also regulated by light. However, the rice promoter drove the GUS activity mainly in mesophyll cells and relatively low in bundle sheath cells, while the maize rbcS promoter induced the activity specifically in bundle sheath cells. These results suggest that the rice promoter contains some cis-acting elements responding in an organ-pecific and light-inducible regulation manner in maize but does not contain element(s) for bundle sheath cell-specific expression, while the maize promoter does contain such element(s). Based on this result, we discuss the similarities and differences between the rice (C3) and maize (C4) rbcS promoter in terms of the evolution of the C4 photosynthetic gene.