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Plant Cell Environ. 2006 Nov;29(11):2055-76.

Impact of the C-N status on the amino acid profile in tobacco source leaves.

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Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Muehlenberg 1, 14474 Golm, Germany.


This paper investigates the influence of the carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) status on the amino acid profile in tobacco source leaves. Treatments used included growing plants at different light intensities, using an antisense RBCS (small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase) construct to inhibit Rubisco activity, growing plants on 12 or 0.5 mM nitrate, comparing wild-types with genotypes that have small and large decreases in nitrate reductase (NIA) activity, and sampling plants at different times during the diurnal cycle. This combination of experiments provides information on how amino acid levels respond to several inputs including the C and N status, nitrate, excess light and light-dark transitions. The data set was analysed using principal component analysis, regression analysis and by normalizing the level of each individual amino acid on the total amino acid pool. Most amino acids show a downward trend when the C or the N status is decreased, and rise during day and fall at night during the diurnal cycle. However, individual amino acids often showed deviating responses. Furthermore, no evidence was found for feedback inhibition of minor amino acid synthesis, either within or between pathways, when 18 individual amino acids were supplied to detached leaves. Results indicate that regulation of amino acid metabolism, for example by the C and N status, leads to qualitatively similar responses of many amino acids, but homeostatic mechanisms involving feedback inhibition within or between individual amino acid biosynthesis pathways are not stringent. All of the above inputs affect the level of phenylalanine, an amino acid that is also the substrate for an important sector of secondary metabolism. The levels of glutamate were remarkably constant, indicating that unknown mechanisms stabilize the concentration of this key central amino acid. Analyses of metabolite levels and feeding experiments indicated that 2-oxoglutarate plays an important role in regulating glutamate levels. Glutamate was the most effective inhibitor of NIA activity when 18 individual amino acids were supplied to detached leaves. Feeding glutamate, and other downstream amino acids, led to an increase of glutamine, indicating glutamate exerts feedback regulation on ammonium metabolism.

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