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Plant Cell. Feb 1997; 9(2): 171–184.
PMCID: PMC156909

The wheat transcriptional activator SPA: a seed-specific bZIP protein that recognizes the GCN4-like motif in the bifactorial endosperm box of prolamin genes.


The conserved bifactorial endosperm box found in the promoter of wheat storage protein genes comprises two different cis elements that are thought to be involved in regulating endosperm-specific gene expression. Endosperm nuclear extracts contain binding activities. One is called ESBF-I, which binds to the endosperm motif (EM), and the other is called ESBF-II, which binds to the GCN4-like motif(GLM). Here, we present a functional analysis of the endosperm box of a low-molecular-weight glutenin gene found on the 1D1 chromosome of hexaploid wheat (LMWG-1D1) in transgenic tobacco plants. Our analysis demonstrates the necessity of the EM and GLM for endosperm-specific gene expression and suggests the presence in tobacco of functional counterparts of wheat ESBF-I and ESBF-II. Furthermore, we describe the isolation and characterization of cDNA clones encoding SPA, a seed-specific basic leucine zipper protein from wheat that can activate transcription from the GLMs of the -326-bp LMWG-1D1 promoter in both maize and tobacco leaf protoplasts. This activation is also partially dependent on the presence of functional EMs, suggesting interactions between SPA with ESBF-I-like activities.

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Selected References

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