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Biochem J. 2007 Jul 1;405(1):191-8.

BHLH32 modulates several biochemical and morphological processes that respond to Pi starvation in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Plant Science Group, Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.


P(i) (inorganic phosphate) limitation severely impairs plant growth and reduces crop yield. Hence plants have evolved several biochemical and morphological responses to P(i) starvation that both enhance uptake and conserve use. The mechanisms involved in P(i) sensing and signal transduction are not completely understood. In the present study we report that a previously uncharacterized transcription factor, BHLH32, acts as a negative regulator of a range of P(i) starvation-induced processes in Arabidopsis. In bhlh32 mutant plants in P(i)-sufficient conditions, expression of several P(i) starvation-induced genes, formation of anthocyanins, total P(i) content and root hair formation were all significantly increased compared with the wild-type. Among the genes negatively regulated by BHLH32 are those encoding PPCK (phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase kinase), which is involved in modifying metabolism so that P(i) is spared. The present study has shown that PPCK genes are rapidly induced by P(i) starvation leading to increased phosphorylation of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase. Furthermore, several Arabidopsis proteins that regulate epidermal cell differentiation [TTG1 (TRANSPARENT TESTA GLABRA1), GL3 (GLABRA3) and EGL3 (ENHANCER OF GL3)] positively regulate PPCK gene expression in response to P(i) starvation. BHLH32 can physically interact with TTG1 and GL3. We propose that BHLH32 interferes with the function of TTG1-containing complexes and thereby affects several biochemical and morphological processes that respond to P(i) availability.

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