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Plant Physiol. 2006 Nov;142(3):1075-86. Epub 2006 Sep 22.

Regulation of the high-affinity NO3- uptake system by NRT1.1-mediated NO3- demand signaling in Arabidopsis.

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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, Montpellier, France.


The NRT2.1 gene of Arabidopsis thaliana encodes a major component of the root high-affinity NO(3)(-) transport system (HATS) that plays a crucial role in NO(3)(-) uptake by the plant. Although NRT2.1 was known to be induced by NO(3)(-) and feedback repressed by reduced nitrogen (N) metabolites, NRT2.1 is surprisingly up-regulated when NO(3)(-) concentration decreases to a low level (<0.5 mm) in media containing a high concentration of NH(4)(+) or Gln (>or=1 mm). The NRT3.1 gene, encoding another key component of the HATS, displays the same response pattern. This revealed that both NRT2.1 and NRT3.1 are coordinately down-regulated by high external NO(3)(-) availability through a mechanism independent from that involving N metabolites. We show here that repression of both genes by high NO(3)(-) is specifically mediated by the NRT1.1 NO(3)(-) transporter. This mechanism warrants that either NRT1.1 or NRT2.1 is active in taking up NO(3)(-) in the presence of a reduced N source. Under low NO(3)(-)/high NH(4)(+) provision, NRT1.1-mediated repression of NRT2.1/NRT3.1 is relieved, which allows reactivation of the HATS. Analysis of atnrt2.1 mutants showed that this constitutes a crucial adaptive response against NH(4)(+) toxicity because NO(3)(-) taken up by the HATS in this situation prevents the detrimental effects of pure NH(4)(+) nutrition. It is thus hypothesized that NRT1.1-mediated regulation of NRT2.1/NRT3.1 is a mechanism aiming to satisfy a specific NO(3)(-) demand of the plant in relation to the various specific roles that NO(3)(-) plays, in addition to being a N source. A new model is proposed for regulation of the HATS, involving both feedback repression by N metabolites and NRT1.1-mediated repression by high NO(3)(-).

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