The maize R2R3-MYB regulator C1 cooperates with the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) factor R to activate the expression of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes coordinately. As is the case for other bHLH factors, R harbors several protein-protein interaction domains. Here we show that not the classical but rather a briefly extended R bHLH region forms homodimers that bind canonical G-box DNA motifs. This bHLH DNA-binding activity is abolished if the C-terminal ACT (aspartokinase, chorismate, and TyrA) domain is licensed to homodimerize. Then the bHLH remains in the monomeric form, allowing it to interact with R-interacting factor 1 (RIF1). In this configuration, the R-RIF1 complex is recruited to the promoters of a subset of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes, such as A1, through the interaction with its MYB partner C1. If, however, the ACT domain remains monomeric, the bHLH region dimerizes and binds to G-boxes present in several anthocyanin genes, such as Bz1. Our results provide a mechanism by which a dimerization domain in a bHLH factor behaves as a switch that permits distinct configurations of a regulatory complex to be tethered to different promoters. Such a combinatorial gene regulatory framework provides one mechanism by which genes lacking obviously conserved cis-regulatory elements are regulated coordinately.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jul 24 2012|
- Gene regulation
- Promoter switch
ASJC Scopus subject areas