Activating sequence factor 1 (ASF-1) is a nuclear DNA-binding activity that is found in monocots and dicots. It interacts with several TGACG-containing elements that have been characterized from viral and T-DNA genes, the prototypes of which are the as-1 element of the CaMV 35S promoter and the ocs element from the octopine synthase promoter. This class of cis-acting elements can respond to auxin and salilcylic acid treatments. Consistent with these observations, we have shown that ASF-1 can interact with promoter elements of an auxin-inducible tobacco gene GNT35, encoding a glutathione S-transferase. Characterization of the nuclear factors that make up ASF-1 activity in vivo will be an important step toward understanding this induction phenomenon. The TGA family of basic-leucine-zipper (bZIP) proteins are good candidates for the ASF-1 nuclear factor. However, there may bess many as seven distinct TGA genes in Arabidopsis, five of which have now been reported. In this study, we expressed the cDNAs that encode four of these five Arabidopsis TGA factors in vitro and compared their DNA-binding behavior using two types of TGACG-containing elements. With specific antisera prepared against three of the five known Arabidopsis TGA factors, we also investigated the relative abundance of these three proteins within the ASF-1 activities of root and leaf nuclear extracts. Our results indicate that these TGA factors bind to DNA with different degrees of cooperativity and their relative affinity toward as-1 also can differ significantly. The results of a supershift assay suggested that only one of the three TGA factors represented a significant component of nuclear ASF-1 activity. Arabidopsis TGA2 comprises ̃33 and 50% of the ASF-1 activity detected in root and leaf nuclear extracts respectively. These results suggest that each member of the TGA factor family may be differentially regulated and that they may play different roles by virtue of their distinct DNA-binding characteristics. Furthermore, since transcripts for each of these factors can be detected in various plant tissues, post-transcriptional regulation may play an important part in determining their contribution to nuclear ASF-1 in a given cell type.
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