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Mol Cell. 2014 Feb 6;53(3):369-79. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2013.12.020. Epub 2014 Jan 23.

Nitric oxide sensing in plants is mediated by proteolytic control of group VII ERF transcription factors.

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Division of Plant and Crop Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK.
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación, 46022 Valencia, Spain.
Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna, Dr. Bohr Gasse 9, Vienna 1030, Austria.
School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.
Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden AL5 2JQ, UK.
Division of Plant and Crop Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK. Electronic address:


Nitric oxide (NO) is an important signaling compound in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In plants, NO regulates critical developmental transitions and stress responses. Here, we identify a mechanism for NO sensing that coordinates responses throughout development based on targeted degradation of plant-specific transcriptional regulators, the group VII ethylene response factors (ERFs). We show that the N-end rule pathway of targeted proteolysis targets these proteins for destruction in the presence of NO, and we establish them as critical regulators of diverse NO-regulated processes, including seed germination, stomatal closure, and hypocotyl elongation. Furthermore, we define the molecular mechanism for NO control of germination and crosstalk with abscisic acid (ABA) signaling through ERF-regulated expression of ABSCISIC ACID INSENSITIVE5 (ABI5). Our work demonstrates how NO sensing is integrated across multiple physiological processes by direct modulation of transcription factor stability and identifies group VII ERFs as central hubs for the perception of gaseous signals in plants.

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