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Front Plant Sci. 2013 Jul 23;4:276. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00276. eCollection 2013.

The transcriptional response of Arabidopsis leaves to Fe deficiency.

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Academia Sinica, Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology Taipei, Taiwan.


Due to its ease to donate or accept electrons, iron (Fe) plays a crucial role in respiration and metabolism, including tetrapyrrole synthesis, in virtually all organisms. In plants, Fe is a component of the photosystems and thus essential for photosynthesis. Fe deficiency compromises chlorophyll (Chl) synthesis, leading to interveinal chlorosis in developing leaves and decreased photosynthetic activity. To gain insights into the responses of photosynthetically active cells to Fe deficiency, we conducted transcriptional profiling experiments on leaves from Fe-sufficient and Fe-deficient plants using the RNA-seq technology. As anticipated, genes associated with photosynthesis and tetrapyrrole metabolism were dramatically down-regulated by Fe deficiency. A sophisticated response comprising the down-regulation of HEMA1 and NYC1, which catalyze the first committed step in tetrapyrrole biosynthesis and the conversion of Chl b to Chl a at the commencement of Chl breakdown, respectively, and the up-regulation of CGLD27, which is conserved in plastid-containing organisms and putatively involved in xanthophyll biosynthesis, indicates a carefully orchestrated balance of potentially toxic tetrapyrrole intermediates and functional end products to avoid photo-oxidative damage. Comparing the responses to Fe deficiency in leaves to that in roots confirmed subgroup 1b bHLH transcription factors and POPEYE/BRUTUS as important regulators of Fe homeostasis in both leaf and root cells, and indicated six novel players with putative roles in Fe homeostasis that were highly expressed in leaves and roots and greatly induced by Fe deficiency. The data further revealed down-regulation of organ-specific subsets of genes encoding ribosomal proteins, which may be indicative of a change in ribosomal composition that could bias translation. It is concluded that Fe deficiency causes a massive reorganization of plastid activity, which is adjusting leaf function to the availability of Fe.


Fe deficiency; Fe homeostasis; RNA-seq; chlorophyll metabolism; reactive oxygen species; ribosomes

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