Gene Expression in Plants


Changes in gene expression are central to plant development and environmental responses, and to modifying plants for practical use. Gene regulation is similar in plants and other eukaryotes, so most of the methods to study it are also comparable, including the recent emphasis on genome‐wide approaches.

Keywords: expression array; cis‐element; transcription factors

Figure 1.

Top view of an Arabidopsis inflorescence, showing the expression of a reporter gene (blue colour) in the stamens of developing floral buds. The reporter gene contains the coding sequence of the GUS protein, controlled by the regulatory sequences of a gene normally expressed in the developing stamens. The inflorescence has been incubated with a substrate that forms a blue precipitate after it is hydrolysed by the GUS enzyme. After this reaction, the inflorescence was treated with ethanol to remove chlorophyll and facilitate detection of the blue precipitate.

Figure 2.

Schematic view of the chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) procedure. (a) In a living cell, the transcription factor (TF) under study is associated with specific DNA sequences within its target genes (marked in red). (b) The cell is treated with formaldehyde, which crosslinks the TF and the DNA with which it is in contact. (c) After crosslinking, the DNA is extracted and fragmented. (d) antibodies (in green) that recognize specifically the TF are used to precipitate the TF with its associated DNA. (e) A chemical treatment reverts the crosslinking to the TF and releases the precipitated DNA for subsequent analysis.

Figure 3.

Diagram showing how a two‐component system is used to activate a gene in specific tissues of the plant. The ‘driver’ (top panel) is a transgene in which a tissue specific promoter controls the expression of an artificial transcription factor (TF). A plant containing the driver is crossed to another plant containing the ‘effector’ transgene, in which the expression of a gene of interest (marked in red) is controlled by a promoter that is normally inactive, but can be activated in the presence of the TF encoded by the driver. After crossing a plant containing the driver to the plant containing the effector, the progeny plants express the gene of interest in the same tissues where the driver is expressed. This is useful to study a gene whose activation in the plant is lethal or causes sterility; in addition, a single effector can be crossed to different drivers to study the effects of expression in different tissues.



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Further Reading

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Schwechheimer C, Zourelidou M and Bevan MW (1998) Plant transcription factor studies. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology 49: 127–150.

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How to Cite close
Sablowski, Robert WM(Apr 2007) Gene Expression in Plants. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002664.pub2]