We have isolated and sequenced all 23 members of the 22-kD α zein (z1C) gene family of maize. This is one of the largest plant gene families that has been sequenced from a single genetic background and includes the largest contiguous genomic DNA from maize with 346,292 bp to date. Twenty-two of the z1C members are found in a roughly tandem array on chromosome 4S forming a dense gene cluster 168,489-bp long. The twenty-third copy of the gene family is also located on chromosome 4S at a site ∼20 cM closer to the centromere and appears to be the wild-type allele of the floury-2 (fl2) mutation. On the basis of an analysis of maize cDNA databases, only seven of these genes appear to be expressed including the fl2 allele. The expressed genes in the cluster are interspersed with nonexpressed genes. Interestingly, some of the expressed genes differ in their transcriptional regulation. Gene amplification appears to be in blocks of genes explaining the rapid and compact expansion of the cluster during the evolution of maize.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes