In Arabidopsis, the induction of a dehydration-responsive gene, rd22, is mediated by abscisic acid (ABA) and requires protein biosynthesis for ABA-dependent gene expression. Previous experiments established that a 67-bp DNA fragment of the rd22 promoter is sufficient for dehydration- and ABA-induced gene expression and that this DNA fragment contains two closely located putative recognition sites for the basic helix-loop-helix protein MYC and one putative recognition site for MYB. We have carefully analyzed the 67-bp region of the rd22 promoter in transgenic tobacco plants and found that both the first MYC site and the MYB recognition site function as cis-acting elements in the dehydration-induced expression of the rd22 gene. A cDNA encoding a MYC-related DNA binding protein was isolated by DNA-ligand binding screening, using the 67-bp region as a probe, and designated rd22BP1. The rd22BP1 cDNA encodes a 68-kD protein that has a typical DNA binding domain of a basic region helix-loop-helix leucine zipper motif in MYC-related transcription factors. The rd22BP1 protein binds specifically to the first MYC recognition site in the 67-bp fragment. RNA gel blot analysis revealed that transcription of the rd22BP1 gene is induced by dehydration stress and ABA treatment, and its induction precedes that of rd22. We have reported a drought- and ABA-inducible gene that encodes the MYB-related protein ATMYB2. In a transient transactivation experiment using Arabidopsis leaf protoplasts, we demonstrated that both the rd22BP1 and ATMYB2 proteins activate transcription of the rd22 promoter fused to the beta-glucuronidase reporter gene. These results indicate that both the rd22BP1 (MYC) and ATMYB2 (MYB) proteins function as transcriptional activators in the dehydration- and ABA-inducible expression of the rd22 gene.
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