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Plant Physiol. 2005 Sep;139(1):437-47. Epub 2005 Aug 19.

Quantitative statistical analysis of cis-regulatory sequences in ABA/VP1- and CBF/DREB1-regulated genes of Arabidopsis.

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Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611, USA.


We have developed a simple quantitative computational approach for objective analysis of cis-regulatory sequences in promoters of coregulated genes. The program, designated MotifFinder, identifies oligo sequences that are overrepresented in promoters of coregulated genes. We used this approach to analyze promoter sequences of Viviparous1 (VP1)/abscisic acid (ABA)-regulated genes and cold-regulated genes, respectively, of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). We detected significantly enriched sequences in up-regulated genes but not in down-regulated genes. This result suggests that gene activation but not repression is mediated by specific and common sequence elements in promoters. The enriched motifs include several known cis-regulatory sequences as well as previously unidentified motifs. With respect to known cis-elements, we dissected the flanking nucleotides of the core sequences of Sph element, ABA response elements (ABREs), and the C repeat/dehydration-responsive element. This analysis identified the motif variants that may correlate with qualitative and quantitative differences in gene expression. While both VP1 and cold responses are mediated in part by ABA signaling via ABREs, these responses correlate with unique ABRE variants distinguished by nucleotides flanking the ACGT core. ABRE and Sph motifs are tightly associated uniquely in the coregulated set of genes showing a strict dependence on VP1 and ABA signaling. Finally, analysis of distribution of the enriched sequences revealed a striking concentration of enriched motifs in a proximal 200-base region of VP1/ABA and cold-regulated promoters. Overall, each class of coregulated genes possesses a discrete set of the enriched motifs with unique distributions in their promoters that may account for the specificity of gene regulation.

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