• Open Access

Functional analysis of cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter: re-evaluation of the role of subdomains B5, B4 and B2 in promoter activity


* Correspondence (fax 91-11-24115270; e-mail pburma@hotmail.com)


The cauliflower mosaic virus 35S (35S) promoter is used extensively for transgene expression in plants. The promoter has been delineated into different subdomains based on deletion analysis and gain-of-function studies. However, cis-elements important for promoter activity have been identified only in the domains B1 (as-2 element), A1 (as-1 element) and minimal promoter (TATA box). No cis-elements have been described in subdomains B2–B5, although these are reported to be important for the overall activity of the 35S promoter. We have re-evaluated the contribution of three of these subdomains, namely B5, B4 and B2, to 35S promoter activity by developing several modified promoters. The analysis of β-glucuronidase gene expression driven by the modified promoters in different tissues of primary transgenic tobacco lines, as well as in seedlings of the T1 generation, revealed new facets about the functional organization of the 35S promoter. This study suggests that: (i) the 35S promoter truncated up to –301 functions in a similar manner to the –343 (full-length) 35S promoter; (ii) the Dof core and I-box core observed in the subdomain B4 are important for 35S promoter activity; and (iii) the subdomain B2 is essential for maintaining an appropriate distance between the proximal and distal regions of the 35S promoter. These observations will aid in the development of functional synthetic 35S promoters with decreased sequence homology. Such promoters can be used to drive multiple transgenes without evoking promoter homology-based gene silencing when attempting gene stacking.