TGA1a and PG13 constitute a family of tobacco basic leucine zipper (bZIP) proteins that bind to activating sequence-1 (as-1), which is one of the multiple regulatory cis elements of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter. After truncation of the CaMV 35S promoter down to position -90 (CaMV 35S (-90) promoter), transcription stringently depends on the presence of as-1, which is recognized by nuclear DNA binding proteins called ASF-1. The role of the TGA1a/PG13 bZIP family in the formation of ASF-1 and in transcriptional activation of the CaMV 35S (-90) promoter has not yet been demonstrated in vivo. We constructed transgenic tobacco plants expressing a mutant of potato PG13, which lacks its wild-type DNA binding domain. This mutant acts as a trans-dominant inhibitor of ASF-1 formation and of expression from the CaMV 35S (-90) promoter, showing that PG13 can specifically interact with proteins necessary for these processes. Although we did not observe any other obvious phenotypic changes, these transgenic plants are a potentially valuable tool in identifying whether TGA1a and PG13 are involved in controlling promoters encoded in the plant genome.
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