Upon fertilization Chlamydomonas reinhardtii zygotes undergo a program of differentiation into a diploid zygospore that is accompanied by transcription of hundreds of zygote-specific genes. We identified a distinct sequence motif we term a zygotic response element (ZYRE) that is highly enriched in promoter regions of C. reinhardtii early zygotic genes. A luciferase reporter assay was used to show that native ZYRE motifs within the promoter of zygotic gene ZYS3 or intron of zygotic gene DMT4 are necessary for zygotic induction. A synthetic luciferase reporter with a minimal promoter was used to show that ZYRE motifs introduced upstream are sufficient to confer zygotic upregulation, and that ZYRE-controlled zygotic transcription is dependent on the homeodomain transcription factor GSP1. We predict that ZYRE motifs will correspond to binding sites for the homeodomain proteins GSP1-GSM1 that heterodimerize and activate zygotic gene expression in early zygotes.
- Cis-regulatory element
- Homeodomain protein