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Allelic expression of the rice yield-related gene, leucine-rich receptor-like kinase 6 (LRK6), in the hybrid of 93-11 (Oryza sativa L. subsp. Indica var. 93-11) and Nipponbare (O. sativa L. subsp. Japonica var. Nipponbare) is determined by allelic promoter cis-elements. Using deletion analysis of the LRK6 promoter, we identified two distinct regions that might contribute to LRK6 expression. Sequence alignment revealed differences in these LRK6 promoter regions in 93-11 and Nipponbare. One of the segments, named differential sequence of LRK6 promoter 2 (DSLP2), contains potential transcription factor binding sites. Using a yeast one-hybrid assay, we isolated an ethylene-responsive factor (ERF) protein that binds to DSLP2. Sequence analysis and a GCC-box assay showed that the ERF gene, O. sativa ERF 3 (OsERF3), which belongs to ERF subfamily class II, has a conserved ERF domain and an ERF-associated amphiphilic repression repressor motif. We used an in vivo mutation assay to identify a new motif (5′-TAA(A)GT-3′) located in DSLP2, which interacts with OsERF3. These results suggest that OsERF3, an AP2 (APETALA 2 Gene)/ERF transcription factor, binds the LRK6 promoter at this new motif, which might cause differential expression of LRK6 in the 93-11/Nipponbare hybrid.
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