Transcripts of maize RbcS genes accumulate differentially in C3 and C4 tissues

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RbcS genes exist as multigene families in most plant species examined. In this paper, we report an investigation into the expression patterns of two maize RbcS genes, designated in this report as RbcS1and RbcS2. We present the sequence of RbcS2 and show that the structure of the gene has several features in common with other monocot RbcS genes. To determine whether RbcS1 and RbcS2 fulfil different functional roles with respect to the C3 and C4 carbon fixation pathways, we have investigated the expression patterns of the two genes in different maize tissue types. Transcripts of both genes are found at high levels specifically in bundle-sheath cells of maize seedling leaves, indicating that both genes are expressed in the C4-type pattern. However, we show that RbcS1 transcripts are relatively more abundant than RbcS2 transcripts in C3 tissues such as husk leaves. These results are discussed with respect to the evolution of C4 carbon fixation and the mechanisms required for the cell-specific expression of RbcS genes.

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