Faculty Publications

The Lem2 Gene Promoter Of Barley Directs Cell- And Development-Specific Expression Of GFP In Transgenic Plants

Document Type



Barley, Fusarium graminearum, Genetic transformation, gfp, Lem2 promoter, Tissue-specific expression

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Plant Biotechnology Journal





First Page


Last Page



Transgenic approaches to combating fungal pathogens, such as Fusarium graminearum, require the targeting of antifungal gene expression in tissues of developing seed spikes of cereal grains, especially lemmas and epicarps. The Lem2 gene of barley encodes a lectin-like protein that is strongly up-regulated by salicylic acid and is preferentially expressed in lemmas, paleas (lemma/palea) and coleoptiles. Transient expression studies have indicated that the proximal -75/+70 region (relative to the transcription start site) determines organ specificity. In the present study, Golden Promise barley stably transformed with Morex Lem2 promoter/gfp reporter constructs displayed cell- and development-specific expression of gfp (green fluorescent protein gene). This expression corresponded to the expression seen in Northern blots of Morex organs. Under the full-length promoter, strong GFP fluorescence was observed in the lemma/palea, glumes, coleoptile, auricle and ligule. Weak GFP fluorescence was also observed in the rachis, tips of primary leaves and the leaf sheath. Unexpectedly, strong expression occurred in the epicarp, even though Lem2 is not expressed in this organ in Morex. Studies showed that the Lem2 promoter is more highly methylated in the epicarp than in the lemma of Morex. In the lemma/palea, gfp underwent a temporal shift in expression from the mesophyll to specialized epidermal cork cells. Similar to the lemma/palea, expression in the leaf sheath was localized in the cork cells. Progressive 5′ deletions of the promoter to nucleotide-75 gradually reduced the level of gfp expression, but tissue- and cell-specific expression was retained. © 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Department of Biology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version