We demonstrate that a chimeric gene containing the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene linked to a 646-base pair 5' fragment (-554 to +92) from the abscisic acid (ABA)-regulated Em gene from wheat is correctly expressed in transgenic tobacco. We observe high activity only in embryos of mature seeds, and immature seeds cultured on ABA show enhanced expression. Using a rice transient assay, we identify a 260-base pair fragment (-168 to +92) that accounts for the ABA-specific 15-fold to 20-fold increase in GUS expression. A 50-base pair sequence (-152 to -103) fused 5' in either orientation to a truncated cauliflower mosaic virus promoter (35S) increases GUS activity threefold in the presence of ABA. Insertion of the Em 5'-untranslated region (+6 to +86) between the 35S promoter and the ATG of GUS results in a 10-fold increase in GUS activity in the absence of ABA. These results suggest the following two functional fragments of the Em 5' region: an ABA response element from -152 to -103 and an element between +6 and +86 that quantitatively increases the ABA response.
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