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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7685-90.

A maize zinc-finger protein binds the prolamin box in zein gene promoters and interacts with the basic leucine zipper transcriptional activator Opaque2.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego, Mail Code 0116, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


The prolamin box (P-box) is a highly conserved 7-bp sequence element (5'-TGTAAAG-3') found in the promoters of many cereal seed storage protein genes. Nuclear factors from maize endosperm specifically interact with the P-box present in maize prolamin genes (zeins). The presence of the P-box in all zein gene promoters suggests that interactions between endosperm DNA binding proteins and the P-box may play an important role in the coordinate activation of zein gene expression during endosperm development. We have cloned an endosperm-specific maize cDNA, named prolamin-box binding factor (PBF), that encodes a member of the recently described Dof class of plant Cys2-Cys2 zinc-finger DNA binding proteins. When tested in gel shift assays, PBF exhibits the same sequence-specific binding to the P-box as factors present in maize endosperm nuclei. Additionally, PBF interacts in vitro with the basic leucine zipper protein Opaque2, a known transcriptional activator of zein gene expression whose target site lies 20 bp downstream of the P-box in the 22-kDa zein gene promoter. The isolation of the PBF gene provides an essential tool to further investigate the functional role of the highly conserved P-box in regulating cereal storage protein gene expression.

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