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Plant Mol Biol. 1999 Nov;41(5):701-11.

Transcriptional regulation of the Nia1 gene encoding nitrate reductase in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii: effects of various environmental factors on the expression of a reporter gene under the control of the Nia1 promoter.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of Li├Ęge, Sart Tilman, Belgium.


The NAD(P)H nitrate reductase (NR) from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is encoded by the structural gene Nia1. Numerous data from the literature indicate that this enzyme is submitted to complex regulation mechanisms involving multiple controls at transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. To specifically investigate the regulation of the Nia1 gene at the transcriptional level, NR+ and NR- transformed cells harbouring the Nia1:Ars construct (Nia1 promoter fused to the arylsulfatase (ARS)-encoding Ars reporter gene) were cultivated under various experimental conditions and the ARS activities were recorded. ARS levels were very low in cells grown in the presence of NH4Cl and dramatically increased on agar medium deprived of any nitrogen source or containing nitrate, nitrite, urea, arginine or glutamine. Compared to nitrogen-free medium, a slight positive effect of nitrate in the NR+ strain and a significant negative effect of nitrite in both NR+ and NR- strains were observed. The ARS activities were high in the light and very low in the dark or in the light in the presence of DCMU, indicating that Nia1 transcription is strikingly dependent on photosynthetic activity. Acetate used as a carbon source in the dark did not substitute for light in stimulating Nia1:Ars expression. Inactivation of NR by tungstate treatment of the NR+ strain resulted in a dramatic increase of ARS level suggesting that in Chlamydomonas, like in higher plants, active NR negatively regulates the transcription of the NR structural gene. Deleting the major part of the Nia1 leader sequence still present in the chimeric gene resulted in a decrease of ARS level but did not modify the regulation pattern.

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