Transfer cells have specializations that facilitate the transport of solutes across plant exchange surfaces. ZmMRP-1 is a maize (Zea mays) endosperm transfer cell-specific transcriptional activator that plays a central role in the regulatory pathways controlling transfer cell differentiation and function. The present work investigates the signals controlling the expression of ZmMRP-1 through the production of transgenic lines of maize, Arabidopsis, tobacco and barley containing ZmMRP-1promoter:GUS reporter constructs. The GUS signal predominantly appeared in regions of active transport between source and sink tissues, including nematode-induced feeding structures and at sites of vascular connection between developing organs and the main plant vasculature. In those cases, promoter induction was associated with the initial developmental stages of transport structures. Significantly, transfer cells also differentiated in these regions suggesting that, independent of species, location or morphological features, transfer cells might differentiate in a similar way under the influence of conserved induction signals. In planta and yeast experiments showed that the promoter activity is modulated by carbohydrates, glucose being the most effective inducer.