Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Hurst, P., Schnable, J. C., & Holding, D. R. (2021). Tandem duplicate expression patterns are conserved between maize haplotypes of the α-zein gene family. Plant Direct, 5(9), e346. 346




Tandem duplication gives rise to copy number variation and subsequent functional novelty among genes as well as diversity between individuals in a species. Functional novelty can result from either divergence in coding sequence or divergence in patterns of gene transcriptional regulation. Here, we investigate conservation and divergence of both gene sequence and gene regulation between the copies of the α-zein gene family in maize inbreds B73 and W22. We used RNA-seq data generated from developing, self-pollinated kernels at three developmental stages timed to coincide with early and peak zein expression. The reference genome annotations for B73 and W22 were modified to ensure accurate inclusion of their respective α-zein gene models to accurately assess copy-specific expression. Expression analysis indicated that although the total expression of α-zeins is higher in W22, the pattern of expression in both lines is conserved. Additional analysis of publicly available RNA-seq data from a diverse population of maize inbreds also demonstrates variation in absolute expression, but conservation of expression patterns across a wide range of maize genotypes and α-zein haplotypes.