The early methionine (Em) proteins are members of the late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) group of proteins that have been considered to be embryo specific. The ability of a 646-bp wheat Em promoter to control green fluorescent protein (gfp) expression was investigated in transgenic barley and rice. Seeds of transgenic plants expressed gfp in the developing embryo but also in the aleurone layer. The 646-bp Em promoter also directed strong gfp expression in cells comprising the junction between the endosperm transfer cells and cells of the aleurone layer. Em-gfp expression in transgenic barley showed differences in spatial and temporal control when compared with that observed in transgenic rice. Em-gfp expression was also detected in mature aleurone cells of transgenic barley and rice with and without abscisic acid (ABA) treatment. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results indicated the presence of Em and Em-homologous transcript in embryo, aleurone and endosperm tissues of wheat and of barley and rice, respectively. These results suggest that Em proteins may be expressed in both the embryo and aleurone during seed development, possibly providing protection against desiccation in these two tissues that survive seed drying. They may also have a similar role in these tissues during germination. The Em promoter from wheat may be useful in the expression of novel genes in cereal grains, as an embryo- and aleurone-specific promoter complementing other available endosperm- and pericarp-specific promoters to collectively increase the expression of transgenes in seeds.
Furtado, A & Henry, RJ 2005, 'The wheat Em promoter drives reporter gene expression in embryo and aleurone tissue of transgenic barley and rice', Plant Biotechnology Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 421-434.
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