Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 403–414

Evidence for factors regulating transfer cell-specific expression in maize endosperm


  • Gregorio Hueros
    • MPI für Züchtungsforschung, Carl-von-Linné Weg 10
  • Joaquin Royo
    • Dpto. Biología Celular y GeneticaUniversity Alcala
  • Monika Maitz
    • MPI für Züchtungsforschung, Carl-von-Linné Weg 10
  • Francesco Salamini
    • MPI für Züchtungsforschung, Carl-von-Linné Weg 10
  • Richard D. Thompson
    • MPI für Züchtungsforschung, Carl-von-Linné Weg 10

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006331707605

Cite this article as:
Hueros, G., Royo, J., Maitz, M. et al. Plant Mol Biol (1999) 41: 403. doi:10.1023/A:1006331707605


In maize, a layer of basal endosperm cells adjacent to the pedicel is modified for a function in solute transfer. Three genes specifically expressed in this region, termed the basal endosperm transfer layer (BETL-2 to -4), were isolated by differential hybridization. BETL-2 to -4 are coordinately expressed in early and mid-term endosperm development, but are absent at later stages. BETL-2 to -4 coding sequences all predict small (<100 amino acids), secreted, cysteine-rich polypeptides which lack close relatives in current database accessions. BETL-3 and BETL-1 display some sequence similarities with each other and to plant defensins. BETL-2 to -4 promoter regions were isolated and compared, revealing the presence of a promoter-proximal microsatellite repeat as the most highly conserved sequence element in each sequence. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) showed that specific BETL-2 to -4 promoter fragments competed for binding to the same DNA-binding activity in nuclear extracts prepared from maize endosperm. Although BETL-2 to -4 are only expressed in basal endosperm cells, the DNA-binding activities detected were of two types: distal endosperm-specific, or present in both basal and distal endosperm extracts. On the basis of these findings, a model to account for the coordinate regulation of BETL genes in endosperm cells is proposed.

BETLendospermmaizepromotertransfer cell
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999