Analysis and expression of the α-expansin and β-expansin gene families in maize

Y. Wu, R. B. Meeley, D. J. Cosgrove

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112 Scopus citations


Expansins comprise a multigene family of proteins in maize (Zea mays). We isolated and characterized 13 different maize expansin cDNAs, five of which are α-expansins and eight of which are β-expansins. This paper presents an analysis of these 13 expansins, as well as an expression analysis by northern blotting with materials from young and mature maize plants. Some expansins were expressed in restricted regions, such as the β-expansins ExpB1 (specifically expressed in maize pollen) and ExpB4 (expressed principally in young husks). Other expansins such as α-expansin Exp1 and β-expansin ExpB2 were expressed in several organs. The expression of yet a third group was not detected in the selected organs and tissues. An analysis of expansin sequences from the maize expressed sequence tag collection is also presented. Our results indicate that expansin genes may have general, overlapping expression in some instances, whereas in other cases the expression may be highly specific and limited to a single organ or cell type. In contrast to the situation in Arabidopsis, β-expansins in maize seem to be more numerous and more highly expressed than are α-expansins. The results support the concept that β-expansins multiplied and evolved special functions in the grasses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-232
Number of pages11
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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