Functional analysis of the Sesbania rostrata leghemoglobin glb3 gene 5′-upstream region in transgenic Lotus corniculatus and Nicotiana tabacum plants

László Szabados, Pascal Ratet, Britta Grunenberg, Frans J. De Bruijn

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Expression of the Sesbania rostrata leghemoglobin glb3 gene was analyzed in transgenic Lotus corniculatus and tobacco plants harboring chimeric glb3-uidA ( gus) gene fusions to identify cis-acting elements involved in nodule-specific gene expression and general transcriptional control. A 1.9-kilobase fragment of the glb3 5′-upstream region was found to direct a high level of nodule-specific β-glucuronidase (GUS) activity in L. corniculatus, restricted to the Rhizobium-infected cells of the nodules. The same fragment directed a low level of GUS activity in tobacco, restricted primarily to the roots and to phloem cells of the stem and petiole vascular system. A deletion analysis revealed that the region between coordinates -429 and -48 relative to the ATG was sufficient for nodule-specific expression. Replacement of the -161 to -48 region, containing the glb3 CAAT and TATA boxes, with the heterologous truncated promoters Δ-p35S and Δ-pnos resulted in a loss of nodule specificity and reduction of GUS activity in L. corniculatus but a significant increase in tobacco, primarily in the roots. The same fragment could not direct nodule-specific expression when fused to a heterologous enhancer in cis. This region contains DMA sequences required, but not sufficient, for nodule-specific expression in L. corniculatus that function poorly or may be involved in promoter silencing in tobacco. By fusing further upstream fragments to the Δ-p35S and Δ-pnos promoters, two positive regulatory regions were delimited between coordinates -1601 and -670, as well as -429 and -162. The former region appears to function as a general enhancer because it significantly increased promoter activity in both orientations in L. corniculatus and tobacco. The latter region could enhance gene expression in both orientations in tobacco, but only in the correct orientation in L. corniculatus. These results show that efficient expression of the S. rostrata glb3 gene in nodules is mediated by an ATG-proximal, tissue-specific element, as well as further 5′-upstream positive elements; that the S. rostrata glb3 promoter is induced in a nodule-specific fashion in the heterologous legume L. corniculatus, suggesting a high degree of conservation of the relevant regulatory signals; and that the S. rostrata lb promoter is not silent in the nonlegume tobacco, but is expressed primarily in the roots.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-986
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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