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Plant J. 2010 Jun 1;62(5):785-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2010.04189.x. Epub 2010 Feb 26.

Arabidopsis has a cytosolic fumarase required for the massive allocation of photosynthate into fumaric acid and for rapid plant growth on high nitrogen.

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1
Centres of Excellence for Plant Metabolomics and Plant Energy Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

Abstract

The Arabidopsis genome has two fumarase genes, one of which encodes a protein with mitochondrial targeting information (FUM1) while the other (FUM2) does not. We show that a FUM1-green fluorescent protein fusion is directed to mitochondria while FUM2-red fluorescent protein remains in the cytosol. While mitochondrial FUM1 is an essential gene, cytosolic FUM2 is not required for plant growth. However FUM2 is required for the massive accumulation of carbon into fumarate that occurs in Arabidopsis leaves during the day. In fum2 knock-out mutants, fumarate levels remain low while malate increases, and these changes can be reversed with a FUM2 transgene. The fum2 mutant has lower levels of many amino acids in leaves during the day compared with the wild type, but higher levels at night, consistent with a link between fumarate and amino acid metabolism. To further test this relationship we grew plants in the absence or presence of nitrogen fertilizer. The amount of fumarate in leaves increased several fold in response to nitrogen in wild-type plants, but not in fum2. Malate increased to a small extent in the wild type but to a greater extent in fum2. Growth of fum2 plants was similar to that of the wild type in low nitrogen but much slower in the presence of high nitrogen. Activities of key enzymes of nitrogen assimilation were similar in both genotypes. We conclude that FUM2 is required for the accumulation of fumarate in leaves, which is in turn required for rapid nitrogen assimilation and growth on high nitrogen.

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