The manipulation of transacting factors is commonly used to achieve a wide change in the expression of a large number of genes in transgenic plants as a result of a change in the expression of a single gene product. This is mostly achieved by the overexpression of transactivator or repressor proteins. In this study, it is demonstrated that the overexpression of an exogenous DNA-binding protein can be used to compete with the expression of an endogenous transcription factor sharing the same DNA-binding sequence. Arabidopsis was transformed with cDNA encoding tomato abscisic acid stress ripening 1 (ASR1), a sequence-specific DNA protein that has no orthologues in the Arabidopsis genome. ASR1-overexpressing (ASR1-OE) plants display an abscisic acid-insensitive 4 (abi4) phenotype: seed germination is not sensitive to inhibition by abscisic acid (ABA), glucose, NaCl and paclobutrazol. ASR1 binds coupling element 1 (CE1), a cis-acting element bound by the ABI4 transcription factor, located in the ABI4-regulated promoters, including that of the ABI4 gene. Chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrates that ASR1 is bound in vivo to the promoter of the ABI4 gene in ASR1-OE plants, but not to promoters of genes known to be regulated by the transcription factors ABI3 or ABI5. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis confirmed that the expression of ABI4 and ABI4-regulated genes is markedly reduced in ASR1-OE plants. Therefore, it is concluded that the abi4 phenotype of ASR1-OE plants is the result of competition between the foreign ASR1 and the endogenous ABI4 on specific promoter DNA sequences. The biotechnological advantage of using this approach in crop plants from the Brassicaceae family to reduce the transactivation activity of ABI4 is discussed.
- Abscisic acid (ABA)
- Abscisic acid stress ripening 1 (ASR1)
- Abscisic acid-insensitive 4 (ABI4)
- Chromatin immunoprecipitation
- DNA-binding site