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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Feb;47(4):975-91.

AREA directly mediates nitrogen regulation of gibberellin biosynthesis in Gibberella fujikuroi, but its activity is not affected by NMR.

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Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Institut für Botanik, Schlossgarten 3, D-48149, Münster, Germany.


AREA (NIT2) is a general transcription factor involved in derepression of numerous genes responsible for nitrogen utilization in Gibberella fujikuroi and many other fungi. We have previously shown that the deletion of areA-GF resulted in mutants with significantly reduced gibberellin (GA) production. Here we demonstrate that the expression level of six of the seven GA biosynthesis genes is drastically reduced in mutants lacking areA. Furthermore, we show that, despite the fact that GAs are nitrogen-free diterpenoid compounds, which are not obviously involved in nitrogen metabolism, AREA binds directly to the promoters of the six N-regulated genes. The binding of AREA was analysed in more detail using the promoter of one of the GA-biosynthesis genes encoding the ent-kaurene oxidase (P450-4). Deletion/mutation analysis of the P450-4 promoter fused to the Escherichia coli uidA gene, which encodes beta-glucuronidase, allowed the in vivo identification of functional GATA motifs. We have also analysed the nmr gene of G. fujikuroi (nmr-GF) which has high similarity to the Neurospora crassa nmr-1 and Aspergillus nidulans nmrA genes, both involved in nitrogen metabolite repression. In contrast to our expectation, deletion of nmr-GF did not result in significant derepression of the GA biosynthesis genes in the presence of ammonium, glutamine or glutamate. Overexpression of the nmr-GF gene fused to the strong promoter of the G. fujikuroi glutamine synthetase (gs) gene revealed only a very slight repression of the nitrate reductase (niaD) gene, resulting in weak resistance to chlorate. Surprisingly, this effect was only observed in the presence of high amounts of glutamate; cultivation on ammonium failed to induce any resistance to chlorate. Despite the limited effect of gene replacement and overexpression of nmr-GF on the nitrogen metabolism of G. fujikuroi itself, the gene fully restored nitrogen metabolite repression in A. nidulans and N. crassa nmr mutants. Therefore, we postulate that, in contrast to A. nidulans and N. crassa, NMR does not function independently as the main modulator of AREA in G. fujikuroi.

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