Combinatorial control of Arabidopsis proline dehydrogenase transcription by specific heterodimerisation of bZIP transcription factors

EMBO J. 2006 Jul 12;25(13):3133-43. doi: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601206. Epub 2006 Jun 29.


Proline metabolism has been implicated in plant responses to abiotic stresses. The Arabidopsis thaliana proline dehydrogenase (ProDH) is catalysing the first step in proline degradation. Transcriptional activation of ProDH by hypo-osmolarity is mediated by an ACTCAT cis element, a typical binding site of basic leucine zipper (bZIP) transcription factors. In this study, we demonstrate by gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches, as well as chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), that ProDH is a direct target gene of the group-S bZIP factor AtbZIP53. Dimerisation studies making use of yeast and Arabidopsis protoplast-based two-hybrid systems, as well as bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) reveal that AtbZIP53 does not preferentially form dimers with group-S bZIPs but strongly interacts with members of group-C. In particular, a synergistic interplay of AtbZIP53 and group-C AtbZIP10 was demonstrated by colocalisation studies, strong enhancement of ACTCAT-mediated transcription as well as complementation studies in atbzip53 atbzip10 T-DNA insertion lines. Heterodimer mediated activation of transcription has been found to operate independent of the DNA-binding properties and is described as a crucial mechanism to modulate transcription factor activity and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Dimerization
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Mutation
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Proline Oxidase / genetics
  • Proline Oxidase / physiology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Proline Oxidase