A prototype 13-bp TATA-box sequence, TCACTATATATAG, was mutated at each nucleotide position and examined for its function in the core promoter. Specific nucleotides in the first TATA, the second TATA, as well as the flanking sequences influenced promoter function in transient transformation of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum var Petit Havana) leaves. The effect of a given mutation on reporter gene expression in light versus dark was variable and sometimes contrasting. Some mutations, like T7 or A8→C or G, completely inactivated the expression of the minimal promoter in light but not in dark. In general, the sequence requirement for dark expression was less stringent than that for light expression. The selective effect of TATA-box mutations on light versus dark expression was exerted on core promoter function in the chromatin-integrated state also. Even in the presence of an upstream light response activator element, TATA-box mutations influenced modulation of the promoter by light. An A at the eighth position was specifically involved in the red light response of the promoter. Selectivity in gene expression was associated with a high level of transcript initiation from a site that was not active in the dark. Nuclear proteins from dark- and light-grown seedlings showed that the sequence variation within the TATA-box governs the formation of alternative transcriptional complexes. The experiments give direct evidence for the role of a core TATA-box sequence in determining the level as well as selectivity of gene expression in plants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science