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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 9;108(32):13329-34. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017863108. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

High nitrogen insensitive 9 (HNI9)-mediated systemic repression of root NO3- uptake is associated with changes in histone methylation.

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Biochimie et Physiologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Unité Mixte de Recherche 5004, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Sup Agro-UM2, Institut de Biologie Intégrative des Plantes, F-34060 Montpellier, France.


In plants, root nitrate uptake systems are under systemic feedback repression by the N satiety of the whole organism, thus adjusting the N acquisition capacity to the N demand for growth; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. We previously isolated the Arabidopsis high nitrogen-insensitive 9-1 (hni9-1) mutant, impaired in the systemic feedback repression of the root nitrate transporter NRT2.1 by high N supply. Here, we show that HNI9 encodes Arabidopsis INTERACT WITH SPT6 (AtIWS1), an evolutionary conserved component of the RNA polymerase II complex. HNI9/AtIWS1 acts in roots to repress NRT2.1 transcription in response to high N supply. At a genomic level, HNI9/AtIWS1 is shown to play a broader role in N signaling by regulating several hundred N-responsive genes in roots. Repression of NRT2.1 transcription by high N supply is associated with an HNI9/AtIWS1-dependent increase in histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation at the NRT2.1 locus. Our findings highlight the hypothesis that posttranslational chromatin modifications control nutrient acquisition in plants.

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