We are interested in the regulatory mechanisms responsible for the mesophyll-specific expression of C4 phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPCase). A one-hybrid screen resulted in the cloning of four different members of a novel class of plant homeodomain proteins, which are most likely involved in the mesophyll-specific expression of the C4 PEPCase gene in C4 species of the genus Flaveria. Inspection of the homeodomains of the four proteins reveals that they share many common features with described so far, but there are also significant differences. Interestingly, this class of homeodomain proteins occurs also in Arabidopsis thaliana and other C3 plants. One-hybrid experiments as well as in vitro DNA binding studies confirmed that these novel homeodomain proteins specifically interact with the proximal region of the C4 PEPCase gene. The N-terminal domains of the homeodomain proteins contain highly conserved sequence motifs. Two-hybrid experiments show that these motifs are sufficient to confer homo- or heterodimer formation between the proteins. Mutagenesis of conserved cysteine residues within the dimerization domain indicates that these residues are essential for dimer formation. Therefore, we designate this novel class of homeobox proteins ZF-HD, for zinc finger homeodomain protein. Our data suggest that the ZF-HD class of homeodomain proteins may be involved in the establishment of the characteristic expression pattern of the C4 PEPCase gene.
- C photosynthesis
- One-hybrid system
- Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase
- Transcription factor