Maize ( Zea mays ) Viviparous1 (VP1) and Arabidopsis ABI3 are orthologous transcription factors that regulate key aspects of plant seed development and ABA signaling. To understand VP1-regulated gene expression on a global scale, we have performed oligomicroarray analysis of transgenic Arabidopsis carrying 35S :: VP1 in an abi3 null mutant background. We have identified 353 VP1/ABA-regulated genes by GeneChip analysis. Seventy-three percent of the genes were affected by both VP1 and ABA in vegetative tissues, indicating a tight coupling between ABA signaling and VP1 function. A large number of seed-specific genes were ectopically expressed in vegetative tissue of 35S::VP1 plants consistent with evidence that VP1 and ABI3 are key determinants of seed-specific expression. ABI5 , a positive regulator of ABA signaling, was activated by VP1, indicating conservation of the feed-forward pathway mediated by ABI3. ABA induction of ABI1 and ABI2 , negative regulators of ABA signaling, was strongly inhibited by VP1, revealing a second pathway of feed-forward regulation. These results indicate that VP1 strongly modifies ABA signaling through feed-forward regulation of ABI1/ABI5-related genes. Of the 32 bZIP transcription factors represented on the GeneChip, genes in the ABI5 clade were specifically coregulated by ABA and VP1. Statistical analysis of 5′ upstream sequences of the VP1/ABA-regulated genes identified consensus abscisic responsive elements as an enriched element, indicating that many of the genes could be direct targets of the ABI5-related bZIPs. The Sph element is an enriched sequence motif in promoters of genes co-activated by ABA and VP1 but not in promoters of genes activated by ABA alone. This analysis reveals that distinct combinatorial patterns of promoter elements distinguish subclasses of VP1/ABA coregulated genes.
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