The regulation of maturation (MAf)- and late embryogenesis (MA)-specific gene expression in dicots involves factors related to AB13, a seed-specific component of the abscisic acid signal transduction pathways from Arabidopsis. In French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), the ABI3-like factor, PvALF, activates transcription from MAT promoters of phytohemagglutinin (DLEC2) and P-phaseolin (PHSB) genes. We describe theIegulatorgf MAT2 (ROM2) as a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) DNA binding protein that recognizes motifs with symmetric (ACGT) and asymmetric (ACCT) core elements present in both MAT promoters. ROM2 antagonizes trans-activation of the DLEC2 promoter by PvALF in transient expression assays. Repression was abolished by mutations that prevented binding of ROM2 to the DLEC2 seed enhancer region. Momover, a hybrid protein composed of a PvALF activation domain and the DNA binding and dimerization domain of ROM2 activated gene expression, indicating that ROM2 recognizes the DLEC2 enhancer in vivo; consequently, ROM2 functions as a DNA binding site-dependent repressor. Supershift analysis of nuclear proteins, using a ROM2-specific antibody, revealed an increase in ROM2 DNA binding activity during seed desiccation. A corresponding increase in ROM2 mRNA coincided with the period when DLEC2 mRNA levels declined in embryos. These results demonstrate developmental regulation of the ROM2 repressor and point to a role for this factor in silencing DLEC2 transcription during late embryogenesis
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