Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Department of Organismic Interactions, Karl-von-Frisch Strasse, D-35043 Marburg, Germany
The Ustilago maydis mig2 cluster comprises five highly homologous genes that display a pronounced plant-specific expression profile. A 350-bp mig2-5 promoter fragment contained all elements sufficient to confer differential promoter activity. Mutational analysis of this region, fused to the green fluorescent protein reporter gene, allowed dissecting core promoter elements required for high-level promoter activity from elements conferring inducible expression in planta. In particular, the presence of several 5′-CCA-3′ motifs within a short stretch of the mig2-5 promoter was decisive for inducible promoter activity. On this basis, we reconstituted an artificial promoter whose inducible activity specifically relied on multiple CCA motifs. In addition, we identified a novel mig2 homologous gene, mig2-6, that is not part of the mig2 cluster, but displayed the strongest differential expression profile among mig2 genes. The deletion of all six mig2 genes did not compromise the ability to induce tumor formation in infected maize plants. Comparative sequence analysis including the mig2-6 promoter revealed an over-representation of the consensus motif 5′-MNMNWNCCAMM-3′. We discuss putative transcriptional activators involved in mig2 regulation.