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Plant Cell. 2004 Aug;16(8):2128-50. Epub 2004 Jul 23.

Global transcription profiling reveals multiple sugar signal transduction mechanisms in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


Complex and interconnected signaling networks allow organisms to control cell division, growth, differentiation, or programmed cell death in response to metabolic and environmental cues. In plants, it is known that sugar and nitrogen are critical nutrient signals; however, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying nutrient signal transduction is very limited. To begin unraveling complex sugar signaling networks in plants, DNA microarray analysis was used to determine the effects of glucose and inorganic nitrogen source on gene expression on a global scale in Arabidopsis thaliana. In whole seedling tissue, glucose is a more potent signal in regulating transcription than inorganic nitrogen. In fact, other than genes associated with nitrate assimilation, glucose had a greater effect in regulating nitrogen metabolic genes than nitrogen itself. Glucose also regulated a broader range of genes, including genes associated with carbohydrate metabolism, signal transduction, and metabolite transport. In addition, a large number of stress responsive genes were also induced by glucose, indicating a role of sugar in environmental responses. Cluster analysis revealed significant interaction between glucose and nitrogen in regulating gene expression because glucose can modulate the effects of nitrogen and vise versa. Intriguingly, cycloheximide treatment appeared to disrupt glucose induction more than glucose repression, suggesting that de novo protein synthesis is an intermediary event required before most glucose induction can occur. Cross talk between sugar and ethylene signaling may take place on the transcriptional level because several ethylene biosynthetic and signal transduction genes are repressed by glucose, and the repression is largely unaffected by cycloheximide. Collectively, our global expression data strongly support the idea that glucose and inorganic nitrogen act as both metabolites and signaling molecules.

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