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Plant Mol Biol. 2004 Dec;56(6):863-78. Epub 2005 Apr 7.

Ammonium transporter genes in Chlamydomonas: the nitrate-specific regulatory gene Nit2 is involved in Amt1;1 expression.

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Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias, Edificio Severo Ochoa Planta baja, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus de Rabanales, Spain.


Ammonium transport is a key process in nitrogen metabolism. In the green alga Chlamydomonas, we have characterized molecularly the largest family of ammonium transporters (AMT1) so far described consisting of eight members. CrAmt1 genes have an interesting transcript structure with some very small exons. Differential expression patterns were found for each CrAmt1 gene in response to the nitrogen source by using Real Time PCR. These expression patterns were similar under high and low CO2 atmosphere. CrAmt1;1 expression was characterized in detail. It was repressed in both ammonium and nitrate medium, and strongly expressed in nitrogen-free media. Treatment with a Glutamine synthetase inhibitor released partially repression in ammonium and nitrate suggesting that ammonium and its derivatives participate in the observed repressing effects. By studying CrAmt1;1 expression in mutants deficient at different steps of the nitrate assimilation pathway, it has been shown that nitrate has a double negative effect on this gene expression; one related to its reduction to ammonium, and a second one by itself. This second effect of nitrate was dependent on the functionality of the regulatory gene Nit2, specific for nitrate assimilation. Thus, NIT2 would have a dual role on gene expression: the well-known positive one on nitrate assimilation and a novel negative one on Amt1;1 regulation.

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