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Cereal grains are an important nutritional source of amino acids for humans and livestock worldwide. Wheat, barley, and oats belong to a different subfamily of the grasses than rice and in addition to maize, millets, sugarcane, and sorghum. All their seeds, however, are largely devoid of free amino acids because they are stored during dormancy in specialized storage proteins. Prolamins, the major class of storage proteins in cereals with preponderance of proline and glutamine, are synthesized at the endoplasmic reticulum during seed development and deposited into subcellular structures of the immature endosperm, the protein bodies. Prolamins have diverged during the evolution of the grass family in their structure and their properties. Here, we used the expression of wheat glutenin-Dx5 in maize to examine its interaction with maize prolamins during endosperm development. Ectopic expression of Dx5 alters protein body morphology in a way that resembles non-vitreous kernel phenotypes, although Dx5 alone does not cause an opaque phenotype. However, if we lower the amount of γ-zeins in Dx5 maize through RNAi, a non-vitreous phenotype emerges and the deformation on the surface of protein bodies is enhanced, indicating that Dx5 requires γ-zeins for its proper subcellular organization in maize.
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Zhang, Wei; Sangtong, Vavaporn; Peterson, Joan; and Scott, M. Paul, "Divergent properties of prolamins in wheat and maize" (2013). Agronomy Publications. 173.