Genome-wide transcription factor binding in leaves from C3 and C4 grasses

Steven J. Burgess, Ivan Reyna-Llorens, Sean R. Stevenson, Pallavi Singh, Katja Jaeger, Julian M. Hibberd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of plants use C3 photosynthesis, but over 60 independent lineages of angiosperms have evolved the C4 pathway. In most C4 species, photosynthesis gene expression is compartmented between mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells. We performed DNaseI sequencing to identify genome-wide profiles of transcription factor binding in leaves of the C4 grasses Zea mays, Sorghum bicolor, and Setaria italica as well as C3 Brachypodium distachyon. In C4 species, while bundle-sheath strands and whole leaves shared similarity in the broad regions of DNA accessible to transcription factors, the short sequences bound varied. Transcription factor binding was prevalent in gene bodies as well as promoters, and many of these sites could represent duons that influence gene regulation in addition to amino acid sequence. Although globally there was little correlation between any individual DNaseI footprint and cell-specific gene expression, within individual species transcription factor binding to the same motifs in multiple genes provided evidence for shared mechanisms governing C4 photosynthesis gene expression. Furthermore, interspecific comparisons identified a small number of highly conserved transcription factor binding sites associated with leaves from species that diverged around 60 million years ago. These data therefore provide insight into the architecture associated with C4 photosynthesis gene expression in particular and characteristics of transcription factor binding in cereal crops in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2297-2314
Number of pages18
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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