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J Plant Res. 2003 Jun;116(3):253-7. Epub 2003 Apr 17.

Nitrate-specific and cytokinin-mediated nitrogen signaling pathways in plants.

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Plant Science Center, RIKEN (The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research), 1-7-22 Suehiro, Tsurumi, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan.


Inorganic nitrogen is a limiting factor in plant growth and development. Plants constantly sense changes in nitrogen availability and respond appropriately by modulating gene expression. Plants employ multiple routes for the long-distance signaling and communication of nitrogen status. One of these depends on nitrate itself (nitrate-specific signaling), while another uses cytokinin as a messenger. Recent studies suggest that nitrate-specific signaling functions predominantly in the context of the synthesis of amino acids and nucleic acids. This pathway includes the control of the expression of a wide variety of genes. On the other hand, cytokinin-mediated signaling is related mainly to the control of nitrogen partitioning and development. Nitrogen-dependent cytokinin accumulation and the involvement of His-Asp phosphorelay systems are characteristic of this pathway. The coordination of both regulatory pathways seems to be crucially important for the integration of nitrogen signals at the whole plant level.

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