The geminivirus AC2 gene product transactivates the expression of the coat and movement protein (CP and BV1) genes, and this effect seems to be mediated by specific although hitherto unknown cis-acting elements. In this work we examined regions from the CP and BV1 gene promoters of pepper huasteco virus (PHV) to define the sequence elements involved in regulation by AC2. Results from transient gene expression and transgenic plant assays suggest that a truncated 115-nt CP promoter is till responsive to the viral transactivator. This promoter contains three elements similar to a sequence motif termed conserved late element (CLE), which is found in the regulatory regions of many geminiviruses and that was previously suggested, on a theoretical basis, to be a potential functional target for AC2 (Arguello- Astorga et al. (1994), Virology 203, 90-100). To confirm these result, an oligonucleotide containing two CLE motifs was synthesized and characterized in gain-of-function experiments. Transient expression assays showed that this 29-nt sequence is able to confer AC2 responsiveness to heterologous promoters. A smaller oligonucleotide (16 nt) containing a single CLE also conferred this activity. In addition, when the CLE motifs were mutated in their original context (truncated 115-nt promoter), this modified promoter lost its ability to be transactivated by AC2. All these results support the involvement, at least in the case of PHV, of CLE sequences in the process of transactivation.