Phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC) is a key signal transducing enzyme which generates the second messengers inositol trisphosphate and diacylglycerol in mammalian cells. A cDNA clone (PI-PLC1) encoding a phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C was isolated from soybean by screening a cDNA expression library using an anti-(plasma membrane) serum. Genomic DNA gel blot analysis suggested that the corresponding gene is a member of a multigene family. The deduced amino acid sequence of the soybean PI-PLC1 isozyme contains the conserved X and Y regions, found in other PI-PLCs. It is closely related to mammalian delta-type PI-PLCs, Dictyostelium discoideum PI-PLC and yeast PI-PLC1 in terms of the arrangement of the conserved region. Unlike mammalian delta-type PI-PLCs and yeast PI-PLC1, the putative Ca(2+)-binding site of the soybean PI-PLC1 is located in the region spanning the X and Y domains, and the N-terminal region is truncated. FLAG epitope-tagged PI-PLC1 fusion protein purified from transgenic tobacco plants showed phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C activity. Heterologous expression of the soybean PI-PLC1 cDNA in a yeast PI-PLC1 deletion mutant complemented the lethality phenotype of haploid PI-PLC1 disruptants. Immunoblot analysis of the cell fractions prepared from transgenic tobacco plants over-expressing the FLAG epitope-tagged PI-PLC1 fusion protein indicated that the protein encoded by the PI-PLC1 cDNA was localized in the cytosol and plasma membrane.