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Sequence Relationships, Conserved Domains, And Expression Patterns For Maize Homologs Of The Polycomb Group GenesE(z), Esc, AndE(Pc)  

Nathan M. Springer, Olga N. Danilevskaya, Pedro Hermon, Tim G. Helentjaris, Ronald L. Phillips, Heidi F. Kaeppler, Shawn M. Kaeppler

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Abstract Polycomb group (PcG) proteins play an important role in developmental and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in fruit fly (Drosophila  melanogaster) and mammals. Recent evidence has shown that Arabidopsis homologs of PcG proteins are also important for the regulation of plant development. The objective of this study was to characterize the PcG homologs in maize (Zea mays). The 11 cloned PcG proteins from fruit fly and the Enhancer of zeste[E(z)], extra sex combs(esc), and Enhancer of Polycomb[E(Pc)] homologs from Arabidopsis were used as queries to perform TBLASTN searches against the public maize expressed sequence tag database and the Pioneer Hi-Bred database. Maize homologs were found for E(z), esc, and E(Pc), but not for Polycomb, pleiohomeotic,Posterior sex combs, Polycomblike,Additional sex combs, Sex combs on midleg, polyhometoic, or multi sex combs. Transcripts of the three maize Enhancer of zeste-like genes, Mez1, Mez2, andMez3, were detected in all tissues tested, and theMez2 transcript is alternatively spliced in a tissue-dependent pattern. Zea mays fertilization independent endosperm1 (ZmFie1) expression was limited to developing embryos and endosperms, whereas ZmFie2expression was found throughout plant development. The conservation ofE(z) and esc homologs across kingdoms indicates that these genes likely play a conserved role in repressing gene expression.