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Plant J. 2005 Dec;44(6):1001-9.

Single amino acid variation in barley 14-3-3 proteins leads to functional isoform specificity in the regulation of nitrate reductase.

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Department of Developmental Genetics, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


The highly conserved family of 14-3-3 proteins function in the regulation of a wide variety of cellular processes. The presence of multiple 14-3-3 isoforms and the diversity of cellular processes regulated by 14-3-3 suggest functional isoform specificity of 14-3-3 isoforms in the regulation of target proteins. Indeed, several studies observed differences in affinity and functionality of 14-3-3 isoforms. However, the structural variation by which isoform specificity is accomplished remains unclear. Because other reports suggest that specificity is found in differential expression and availability of 14-3-3 isoforms, we used the nitrate reductase (NR) model system to analyse the availability and functionality of the three barley 14-3-3 isoforms. We found that 14-3-3C is unavailable in dark harvested barley leaf extract and 14-3-3A is functionally not capable to efficiently inhibit NR activity, leaving 14-3-3B as the only characterized isoform able to regulate NR in barley. Further, using site directed mutagenesis, we identified a single amino acid variation (Gly versus Ser) in loop 8 of the 14-3-3 proteins that plays an important role in the observed isoform specificity. Mutating the Gly residue of 14-3-3A to the alternative residue, as found in 14-3-3B and 14-3-3C, turned it into a potent inhibitor of NR activity. Using surface plasmon resonance, we show that the ability of 14-3-3A and the mutated version to inhibit NR activity correlates well with their binding affinity for the 14-3-3 binding motif in the NR protein, indicating involvement of this residue in ligand discrimination. These results suggest that both the availability of 14-3-3 isoforms as well as binding affinity determine isoform-specific regulation of NR activity.

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