Sugars have been shown to regulate transcription of numerous genes in plants. Sucrose controls translation of the group S basic region leucine zipper (bZIP)-type transcription factor ATB2/AtbZIP11 (Rook et al., 1998a). This control requires the unusually long 5' untranslated region (UTR) of the gene. Point mutations and deletions of the 5'UTR have uncovered the sequences involved. A highly conserved upstream open reading frame (uORF) coding for 42 amino acids is essential for the repression mechanism. It is conserved in 5'UTRs of bZIP transcription factors from other Arabidopsis thaliana genes and many other plants. ATB2/AtbZIP11 is normally expressed in association with vascular tissues. Ectopic expression of a 5'UTR construct shows that the sucrose repression system is functional in all tissues. AtbZIP2 is another Arabidopsis bZIP transcription factor gene harboring the conserved uORF, which is regulated similarly via sucrose-induced repression of translation. This suggests a general function of the conserved uORF in sucrose-controlled regulation of expression. Our findings imply the operation of a sucrose-sensing pathway that controls translation of several plant bZIP transcription factor genes harboring the conserved uORF in their 5'UTRs. Target genes of such transcription factors will then be regulated in sucrose-dependent way.
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