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Plant Cell Physiol. 2013 Apr;54(4):506-17. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pct007. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

A nitrate-inducible GARP family gene encodes an auto-repressible transcriptional repressor in rice.

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Biotechnology Research Center, The University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8657 Japan.


Nitrogen is the most important macronutrient in plants and its supply induces responses in gene expression, metabolism and developmental processes. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the nitrogen responses remain poorly understood. Here we show that the supply of nitrate but not ammonium immediately induces the expression of a transcriptional repressor gene in rice, designated NIGT1 (Nitrate-Inducible, GARP-type Transcriptional Repressor 1). The results of DNA-binding site selection experiments and electrophoretic mobility shift assays indicated that NIGT1 binds to DNA containing either of two consensus sequences, GAATC or GAATATTC. In transient reporter assays, NIGT1 was found to repress transcription from the promoters containing the identified NIGT1-binding sequences in vivo. Furthermore, NIGT1 repressed the activity of its own promoter, suggesting an autorepression mechanism. Consistently, nitrate-induced NIGT1 expression was found to be down-regulated after a transient peak during nitrate treatment, and the nitrate-induced expression of NIGT1 decreased in transgenic rice plants in which this gene was constitutively overexpressed. Furthermore, the chlorophyll content that could be a marker of nitrogen utilization was found to be decreased in NIGT1 overexpressors of rice grown with nitrate medium but not with ammonium medium. Thus, we propose NIGT1 as a nitrate-inducible and autorepressible transcriptional repressor that may play a role in the nitrogen response in rice. Taken together with the fact that the NIGT1-binding sites are conserved in promoter sequences of Arabidopsis NIGT1 homologs, our findings imply the presence of a time-dependent complex system for nitrate-responsive transcriptional regulation that is conserved in both monocots and dicots.

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