Cotton alpha-globulin promoter: isolation and functional characterization in transgenic cotton, Arabidopsis, and tobacco.
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Globulins are the most abundant seed storage proteins in cotton and, therefore, their regulatory sequences could potentially provide a good source of seed-specific promoters. We isolated the putative promoter region of cotton alpha-globulin B gene by gene walking using the primers designed from a cotton staged embryo cDNA clone. PCR amplified fragment of 1108 bp upstream sequences was fused to gusA gene in the binary vector pBI101.3 to create the test construct. This was used to study the expression pattern of the putative promoter region in transgenic cotton, Arabidopsis, and tobacco. Histochemical GUS analysis revealed that the promoter began to express during the torpedo stage of seed development in tobacco and Arabidopsis, and during cotyledon expansion stage in cotton. The activity quickly increased until embryo maturation in all three species. Fluorometric GUS analysis showed that the promoter expression started at 12 and 15 dpa in tobacco and cotton, respectively, and increased through seed maturation. The strength of the promoter expression, as reflected by average GUS activity in the seeds from primary transgenic plants, was vastly different amongst the three species tested. In Arabidopsis, the activity was 16.7% and in tobacco it was less than 1% of the levels detected in cotton seeds. In germinating seedlings of tobacco and Arabidopsis, GUS activity diminished until it was completely absent 10 days post imbibition. In addition, absence of detectable level of GUS expression in stem, leaf, root, pollen, and floral bud of transgenic cotton confirmed that the promoter is highly seed-specific. Analysis of GUS activity at individual seed level in cotton showed a gene dose effect reflecting their homozygous or hemizygous status. Our results show that this promoter is highly tissue-specific and it can be used to control transgene expression in dicot seeds.