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Front Plant Sci. 2014 Oct 29;5:589. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00589. eCollection 2014.

Molecular mechanisms of regulation of sulfate assimilation: first steps on a long road.

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Botanical Institute and Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences, Cologne Biocenter, University of Cologne Cologne, Germany.


The pathway of sulfate assimilation, which provides plants with the essential nutrient sulfur, is tightly regulated and coordinated with the demand for reduced sulfur. The responses of metabolite concentrations, enzyme activities and mRNA levels to various signals and environmental conditions have been well described for the pathway. However, only little is known about the molecular mechanisms of this regulation. To date, nine transcription factors have been described to control transcription of genes of sulfate uptake and assimilation. In addition, other levels of regulation contribute to the control of sulfur metabolism. Post-transcriptional regulation has been shown for sulfate transporters, adenosine 5'phosphosulfate reductase, and cysteine synthase. Several genes of the pathway are targets of microRNA miR395. In addition, protein-protein interaction is increasingly found in the center of various regulatory circuits. On top of the mechanisms of regulation of single genes, we are starting to learn more about mechanisms of adaptation, due to analyses of natural variation. In this article, the summary of different mechanisms of regulation will be accompanied by identification of the major gaps in knowledge and proposition of possible ways of filling them.


adenosine 5′phosphosulfate; glutathione; microRNA; sulfate assimilation; sulfate uptake; transcription factors; transcriptional regulation

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