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Plant Mol Biol. 1992 Oct;20(2):207-18.

Forcing expression of a soybean root glutamine synthetase gene in tobacco leaves induces a native gene encoding cytosolic enzyme.

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Laboratoire du M├ętabolisme et de la Nutrition des Plantes, C.N.R.A., Versailles, France.


Glutamine synthetase (GS; EC is present in different subcellular compartments in plants. It is located in the cytoplasm in root and root nodules while generally present in the chloroplasts in leaves. The expression of GS gene(s) is enhanced in root nodules and in soybean roots treated with ammonia. We have isolated four genes encoding subunits of cytosolic GS from soybean (Glycine max L. cv. Prize). Promoter analysis of one of these genes (GS15) showed that it is expressed in a root-specific manner in transgenic tobacco and Lotus corniculatus, but is induced by ammonia only in the legume background. Making the GS15 gene expression constitutive by fusion with the CaMV-35S promoter led to the expression of GS in the leaves of transgenic tobacco plants. The soybean GS was functional and was located in the cytoplasm in tobacco leaves where this enzyme is not normally present. Forcing this change in the location of GS caused concomitant induction of the mRNA for a native cytosolic GS in the leaves of transgenic tobacco. Shifting the subcellular location of GS in transgenic plants apparently altered the nitrogen metabolism and forced the induction in leaves of a native GS gene encoding a cytosolic enzyme. The latter is normally expressed only in the root tissue of tobacco. This phenomenon may suggest a hitherto uncharacterized metabolic control on the expression of certain genes in plants.

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