Several DNA-binding proteins with conserved basic region/leucine zipper domains (bZIP) have been isolated from parsley. They all recognise defined ACGT-containing elements (ACEs), including ACE(PcCHSII) in the Light Regulatory Unit LRU1 of the CHS promoter which confers light responsiveness. A new member of this Common Plant Regulatory Factor (CPRF) family, designated CPRF4a, has been cloned, which displays sequence similarity to HBP-1a from wheat, as well as to other plant bZIP proteins. CPRF4a specifically binds as a homodimer to ACE(PcCHSII) and forms heterodimers with CPRF1 but not with CPRF2. In adult parsley plants, CPRF2 and CPRF4a mRNAs are found in all tissues and organs in which the chalcone synthase gene CHS is expressed. In protoplasts from suspension cultured cells, UV irradiation (290-350 nm) did not cause an increase in levels of CPRF1, CPRF2, or CPRF4a mRNA, whereas the corresponding CPRF proteins accumulated within 15 min of light treatment. Furthermore, the rapid light-mediated increase of CPRF proteins was insensitive to transcriptional inhibitors, suggesting that a post-transcriptional mechanism controls CPRF accumulation. CPRFs as well as Arabidopsis thaliana G-box binding factors (GBFs) are selectively transported from the cytosol into the nucleus, as shown in an in vitro nuclear transport system prepared from evacuolated parsley protoplasts, indicating that cytosolic compounds are involved in regulated nuclear targeting of plant bZIP factors.