The DOF protein, SAD, previously shown to be a transcriptional activator in barley aleurone cells upon seed germination, also has an important role in gene regulation during endosperm development. mRNA was detected in early (10 days after flowering) developing barley seeds where it accumulated in the starchy endosperm, aleurone cells, nucellar projection, vascular tissues and the immature embryo, as shown by RT-PCR and in situ hybridization analyses. The SAD protein, expressed in bacteria, binds to oligonucleotides containing the prolamine box, 5'-A/TAAAG-3'sequence, derived from the promoter regions of the endosperm-specific genes Hor2 and Itr1, encoding a B-hordein and trypsin-inhibitor BTI-CMe, respectively. SAD competed for the same binding sites with another endosperm-expressed DOF protein, BPBF. Transient expression experiments in co-bombarded developing endosperms demonstrated that SAD trans-activated transcription from Hor2 and Itr1 promoters through binding to the intact DOF motifs. When the two DOF factors are co-bombarded together an additive effect was observed upon the expression of the Itr1 gene. In-frame fusion of the Sad ORF to the reporter green fluorescent protein gene directs the fluorescence expression to the nucleus in transiently transformed onion epidermal layers. The visualization of fluorescence in the nucleus of onion cells, using the bimolecular fluorescent complex (BiFC) approach, has shown the in vivo interaction between SAD and the R2R3MYB protein GAMYB. The interaction in plant cells has also been documented for the DOF protein BPBF and GAMYB, but nuclear interaction could not be detected between BPBF and SAD by this procedure.