Transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of transcription factor expression in Arabidopsis roots

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Apr 11;103(15):6055-60. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0510607103. Epub 2006 Mar 31.


Understanding how the expression of transcription factor (TF) genes is modulated is essential for reconstructing gene regulatory networks. There is increasing evidence that sequences other than upstream noncoding can contribute to modulating gene expression, but how frequently they do so remains unclear. Here, we investigated the regulation of TFs expressed in a tissue-enriched manner in Arabidopsis roots. For 61 TFs, we created GFP reporter constructs driven by each TF's upstream noncoding sequence (including the 5'UTR) fused to the GFP reporter gene alone or together with the TF's coding sequence. We compared the visually detectable GFP patterns with endogenous mRNA expression patterns, as defined by a genome-wide microarray root expression map. An automated image analysis method for quantifying GFP signals in different tissues was developed and used to validate our visual comparison method. From these combined analyses, we found that (i) the upstream noncoding sequence was sufficient to recapitulate the mRNA expression pattern for 80% (35/44) of the TFs, and (ii) 25% of the TFs undergo posttranscriptional regulation via microRNA-mediated mRNA degradation (2/24) or via intercellular protein movement (6/24). The results suggest that, for Arabidopsis TFs, upstream noncoding sequences are major contributors to mRNA expression pattern establishment, but modulation of transcription factor protein expression pattern after transcription is relatively frequent. This study provides a systematic overview of regulation of TF expression at a cellular level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genome, Plant
  • Kinetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Plant Roots / genetics*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors