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Plant Cell. 2004 Sep;16(9):2433-47. Epub 2004 Aug 19.

Transcript profiling in the chl1-5 mutant of Arabidopsis reveals a role of the nitrate transporter NRT1.1 in the regulation of another nitrate transporter, NRT2.1.

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  • 1Biochimie et Physiologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5004, Agro-M/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique/Université Montpellier 2, 34060 Montpellier, Cedex 1, France.


Arabidopsis thaliana mutants deficient for the NRT1.1 NO(3)(-) transporter display complex phenotypes, including lowered NO(3)(-) uptake, altered development of nascent organs, and reduced stomatal opening. To obtain further insight at the molecular level on the multiple physiological functions of NRT1.1, we performed large-scale transcript profiling by serial analysis of gene expression in the roots of the chl1-5 deletion mutant of NRT1.1 and of the Columbia wild type. Several hundred genes were differentially expressed between the two genotypes, when plants were grown on NH(4)NO(3) as N source. Among these genes, the N satiety-repressed NRT2.1 gene, encoding a major component of the root high-affinity NO(3)(-) transport system (HATS), was found to be strongly derepressed in the chl1-5 mutant (as well as in other NRT1.1 mutants). This was associated with a marked stimulation of the NO(3)(-) HATS activity in the mutant, suggesting adaptive response to a possible N limitation resulting from NRT1.1 mutation. However, derepression of NRT2.1 in NH(4)NO(3)-fed chl1-5 plants could not be attributed to lowered production of N metabolites. Rather, the results show that normal regulation of NRT2.1 expression is strongly altered in the chl1-5 mutant, where this gene is no more repressible by high N provision to the plant. This indicates that NRT1.1 plays an unexpected but important role in the regulation of both NRT2.1 expression and NO(3)(-) HATS activity. Overexpression of NRT2.1 was also found in wild-type plants supplied with 1 mM NH(4)(+) plus 0.1 mM NO(3)(-), a situation where NRT1.1 is likely to mediate very low NO(3)(-) transport. Thus, we suggest that it is the lack of NRT1.1 activity, rather than the absence of this transporter, that derepresses NRT2.1 expression in the presence of NH(4)(+). Two hypotheses are discussed to explain these results: (1) NRT2.1 is upregulated by a NO(3)(-) demand signaling, indirectly triggered by lack of NRT1.1-mediated uptake, which overrides feedback repression by N metabolites, and (2) NRT1.1 plays a more direct signaling role, and its transport activity generates an unknown signal required for NRT2.1 repression by N metabolites. Both mechanisms would warrant that either NRT1.1 or NRT2.1 ensure significant NO(3)(-) uptake in the presence of NH(4)(+) in the external medium, which is crucial to prevent the detrimental effects of pure NH(4)(+) nutrition.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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