SURE (sugar responsive) is a cis element in plant sugar signaling. The SURE element was reported first for potato, in which it confers sugar responsiveness to the patatin promoter. A SURE binding transcription factor has not been isolated. We have isolated a transcription factor cDNA from barley and purified the corresponding protein. The transcription factor, SUSIBA2 (sugar signaling in barley), belongs to the WRKY proteins and was shown to bind to SURE and W-box elements but not to the SP8a element in the iso1 promoter. Nuclear localization of SUSIBA2 was demonstrated in a transient assay system with a SUSIBA2:green fluorescent protein fusion protein. Exploiting the novel transcription factor oligodeoxynucleotide decoy strategy with transformed barley endosperm provided experimental evidence for the importance of the SURE elements in iso1 transcription. Antibodies against SUSIBA2 were produced, and the expression pattern for susiba2 was determined at the RNA and protein levels. It was found that susiba2 is expressed in endosperm but not in leaves. Transcription of susiba2 is sugar inducible, and ectopic susiba2 expression was obtained in sugar-treated leaves. Likewise, binding to SURE elements was observed for nuclear extracts from sugar-treated but not from control barley leaves. The temporal expression of susiba2 in barley endosperm followed that of iso1 and endogenous sucrose levels, with a peak at ∼12 days after pollination. Our data indicate that SUSIBA2 binds to the SURE elements in the barley iso1 promoter as an activator. Furthermore, they show that SUSIBA2 is a regulatory transcription factor in starch synthesis and demonstrate the involvement of a WRKY protein in carbohydrate anabolism. Orthologs to SUSIBA2 were isolated from rice and wheat endosperm.
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