Expression pattern and activity of six glutelin gene promoters in transgenic rice*

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The shortage of strong endosperm-specific expression promoters for driving the expression of recombinant protein genes in cereal endosperm is a major limitation in obtaining the required level and pattern of expression. Six promoters of seed storage glutelin genes (GluA-1, GluA-2, GluA-3, GluB-3, GluB-5, and GluC) were isolated from rice (Oryza sativa L.) genomic DNA by PCR. Their spatial and temporal expression patterns and expression potential in stable transgenic rice plants were examined with β-glucuronidase (GUS) used as a reporter gene. All the promoters showed the expected spatial expression within the endosperm. The GluA-1, GluA-2, and GluA-3 promoters directed GUS expression mainly in the outer portion (peripheral region) of the endosperm. The GluB-5 and GluC promoters directed GUS expression in the whole endosperm, with the latter expressed almost evenly throughout the whole endosperm, a feature different from that of other rice glutelin gene promoters. The GluB-3 promoter directed GUS expression solely in aleurone and subaleurone layers. Promoter activities examined during seed maturation showed that the GluC promoter had much higher activity than the other promoters. These promoters are ideal candidates for achieving gene expression for multiple purposes in monocot endosperm but avoid promoter homology-based gene silencing. The GluC promoter did not contain the endosperm specificity-determining motifs GCN4, AACA, and the prolamin-box, which suggests the existence of additional regulatory mechanism in determining endosperm specificity.

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