Cellulose synthase-like CslF genes have been implicated in the biosynthesis of (1,3;1,4)-beta-d-glucans, which are major cell wall constituents in grasses and cereals. Seven CslF genes from barley (Hordeum vulgare) can be divided into two classes on the basis of intron-exon arrangements. Four of the HvCslF genes have been mapped to a single locus on barley chromosome 2H, in a region corresponding to a major quantitative trait locus for grain (1,3;1,4)-beta-d-glucan content. The other HvCslF genes map to chromosomes 1H, 5H, and 7H, and in two cases the genes are close to other quantitative trait loci for grain (1,3;1,4)-beta-d-glucan content. Spatial and temporal patterns of transcription of the seven genes have been defined through quantitative polymerase chain reaction. In developing barley coleoptiles HvCslF6 mRNA is most abundant. Transcript levels are maximal in 4- to 5-d coleoptiles, at a time when (1,3;1,4)-beta-d-glucan content of coleoptile cell walls also reaches maximal levels. In the starchy endosperm of developing grain, HvCslF6 and HvCslF9 transcripts predominate. Two peaks of transcription are apparent. One occurs just after endosperm cellularization, 4 to 8 d after pollination, while the second occurs much later in grain development, more than 20 d after pollination. Marked varietal differences in transcription of the HvCslF genes are observed during endosperm development. Given the commercial importance of cereal (1,3;1,4)-beta-d-glucans in human nutrition, in stock feed, and in malting and brewing, the observation that only two genes, HvCslF6 and HvCslF9, are transcribed at high levels in developing grain is of potential relevance for the future manipulation of grain (1,3;1,4)-beta-d-glucan levels.
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