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Plant Mol Biol. 2015 Mar;87(4-5):429-40. doi: 10.1007/s11103-015-0289-y. Epub 2015 Feb 6.

Genetic manipulation of a high-affinity PHR1 target cis-element to improve phosphorous uptake in Oryza sativa L.

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State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058, China,


Phosphorus (P) is an essential macronutrient for crop development and production. Phosphate starvation response 1 (PHR1) acts as the central regulator for Pi-signaling and Pi-homeostasis in plants by binding to the cis-element PHR1 binding sequence (P1BS; GNATATNC). However, how phosphate starvation-induced gene expression is regulated remains obscure. In this work, we investigated the DNA binding affinity of the PHR1 ortholog OsPHR2 to its downstream target genes in Oryza sativa (rice). We confirmed that a combination of P1BS and P1BS-like motifs are essential for stable binding by OsPHR2. Furthermore, we report that variations in P1BS motif bases affected the binding affinity of OsPHR2 and that the highest affinity motif was GaATATtC (designated the A-T-type P1BS). We also found that a combination of two A-T-type P1BS elements in tandem, namely HA-P1BS, was very efficient for binding of OsPHR2. Using the cis-regulator HA-P1BS, we modified the promoters of Transporter Traffic Facilitator 1 (PHF1), a key factor controlling endoplasmic reticulum-exit of phosphate transporters to the plasma membrane, for efficient uptake of phosphorous in an energetically neutral way. Transgenic plants with the modified promoters showed significantly enhanced tolerance to low phosphate stress in both solution and soil conditions, which provides a new strategy for crop improvement to enhance tolerance of nutrient deficiency.

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