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Cell Res. 2005 Aug;15(8):613-21.

AtbHLH29 of Arabidopsis thaliana is a functional ortholog of tomato FER involved in controlling iron acquisition in strategy I plants.

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The State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China.


AtbHLH29 of Arabidopsis, encoding a bHLH protein, reveals a high similarity to the tomato FER which is proposed as a transcriptional regulator involved in controlling the iron deficiency responses and the iron uptake in tomato. For identification of its biological functions, AtbHLH29 was introduced into the genome of the tomato FER mutant T3238fer mediated by Agrobacterium tumefaciencs. Transgenic plants were regenerated and the stable integration of AtbHLH29 into their genomes was confirmed by Southern hybridization. Molecular analysis demonstrated that expression of the exogenous AtbHLH29 of Arabidopsis in roots of the FER mutant T3238fer enabled to complement the defect functions of FER. The transgenic plants regained the ability to activate the whole iron deficiency responses and showed normal growth as the wild type under iron-limiting stress. Our transformation data demonstrate that AtbHLH29 is a functional ortholog of the tomato FER and can completely replace FER in controlling the effective iron acquisition in tomato. Except of iron, FER protein was directly or indirectly involved in manganese homeostasis due to that loss functions of FER in T3238fer resulted in strong reduction of Mn content in leaves and the defect function on Mn accumulation in leaves was complemented by expression of AtbHLH29 in the transgenic plants. Identification of the similar biological functions of FER and AtbHLH29, which isolated from two systematically wide-diverged "strategy I" plants, suggests that FER might be a universal gene presented in all strategy I plants in controlling effective iron acquisition system in roots.

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