Alpha-tubulin gene family of maize (Zea mays L.). Evidence for two ancient alpha-tubulin genes in plants

J Mol Biol. 1992 Sep 5;227(1):81-96. doi: 10.1016/0022-2836(92)90683-b.


Among 81 alpha-tubulin cDNA clones prepared from RNA from maize seedling shoot, endosperm and pollen, we identified six different alpha-tubulin coding sequences. The DNA sequence analysis of coding and non-coding regions from the clones showed that they can be classified into three different alpha-tubulin gene subfamilies. Genes within each subfamily encode proteins that are 99 to 100% identical in amino acid sequence. Deduced amino acid sequence identity between genes in different subfamilies ranges from 89 to 93%. The results of hybridizations of genomic DNAs to alpha-tubulin coding region probes and to 3' non-coding region probes constructed from six different alpha-tubulin cDNA clones indicated that the maize alpha-tubulin gene family contains at least eight members. Comparison of deduced alpha-tubulin amino acid sequences from maize and the dicot species Arabidopsis thaliana showed that alpha-tubulin isotypes encoded by genes in maize subfamilies I and II are more similar to specific Arabidopsis gene products (96 to 97% amino acid identity) than to isotypes encoded by genes in the other maize subfamilies. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that genes in these two subfamilies were derived from two ancient alpha-tubulin genes that predate the divergence of monocots and dicots. These same analyses revealed that the gene in maize subfamily III is more closely related to sequences from subfamily I genes than to those from subfamily II genes. However, the subfamily III gene has no close counterpart in Arabidopsis. We found evidence of a transposable element-like insertion in the subfamily III gene in some maize lines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Codon
  • DNA / genetics
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Species Specificity
  • Tubulin / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Codon
  • Tubulin
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X63176
  • GENBANK/X63177
  • GENBANK/X63178
  • GENBANK/X63179
  • GENBANK/X63180