The regulatory region controlling the nitrate-responsive expression of a nitrate reductase gene, NIA1, in Arabidopsis

Mineko Konishi, Shuichi Yanagisawa
Plant & Cell Physiology 2011, 52 (5): 824-36
Nitrate reductase (NR) is the enzyme that catalyzes the first step of nitrate assimilation. It is well known that the expression of NR genes is rapidly induced in various plants by nitrate. Previously, the activity of a tobacco NR gene promoter was reported to be high in tobacco plants grown on medium containing ammonium as the sole nitrogen source, but low in tobacco plants grown on nitrate-containing medium. This cast some doubt on the role of the NR gene promoter in the nitrate-inducible expression of this gene. Furthermore, in previous studies, transformation with genomic fragments containing NR loci restored the reduced NR activity in NR mutants to a limited extent, suggesting a complex regulation of NR gene expression. Here, we show that although the 1.9 kb promoter of an NR gene in Arabidopsis, NIA1, is not activated by nitrate, the expression of a GUS (β-glucuronidase) reporter gene inserted between the 5'- and 3'-flanking sequences of the NIA1 coding region is strongly induced by nitrate. When the 3'-flanking sequence was fused downstream of the GUS gene under the control of the 35S minimal promoter, its expression was also strongly induced by nitrate. Furthermore, dissection analysis of the 3'-flanking region revealed that the sequence downstream of the transcriptional terminator rather than the 3'-untranslated region plays a role in nitrate-inducible expression, indicating a requirement for the 3'-flanking sequence for the nitrate-inducible transcription of NIA1. We also show that the 2.7 kb promoter sequence of NIA2, another NR gene of Arabidopsis, cannot direct nitrate-inducible expression.

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