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G-box binding factors (GBFs) constitute a family of plant DNA-binding proteins that bind to the G-box motif, a regulatory cis element present in many plant genes with a palindromic DNA motif of CACGTG. Previously TCCACGTGTC, a G-box motif, from an auxin responsive gene GmAux28 has been identified as a sequence-specific protein-binding site. Here the isolation of two soybean cDNA clones, referred to as SGBF-1 and SGBF-2, encoding proteins which bind to the G-box motif is reported. The primary structure of SGBF-1 and SGBF-2 predicts that these proteins contain a basic leucine zipper (bZIP) DNA-binding domain and an N-terminal proline-rich domain.

A dramatic difference in the pattern of protein-DNA complex formation was observed when recombinant SGBF-1 and SGBF-2 proteins were analyzed by electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs). The SGBF-1 binding pattern obtained with the G-box probe resulted in three major retarded bands while the SGBF-2 formed a single complex. This shows that the characteristically diffuse banding pattern of plant nuclear proteins interacting with the G-box is also observed in a binding assay using only one recombinant GBF. EMSAs were performed with a few selected binding sequences to study the effect of flanking nucleotides to the hexanucleotide G-box core motif. The binding specificity of the SGBF proteins resembles that described for type A cauliflower nuclear G-box binding proteins which bind class I G-box elements [(G/T)(C/A)CACGTG(G/T)(A/C)]. Phylogenetic analysis of 13 GBF-like proteins from various plant species reveals that the SGBF-1 and SGBF-2 proteins belong to different lineages, suggesting that they may have distinct functions in activating transcription.