Research ArticlePlant biology

Nitrate sensing and uptake in Arabidopsis are enhanced by ABI2, a phosphatase inactivated by the stress hormone abscisic acid

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Sci. Signal.  05 May 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 375, pp. ra43
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaa4829

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Living organisms sense and respond to changes in nutrient availability to cope with diverse environmental conditions. Nitrate (NO3) is the main source of nitrogen for plants and is a major component in fertilizer. Unraveling the molecular basis of nitrate sensing and regulation of nitrate uptake should enable the development of strategies to increase the efficiency of nitrogen use and maximize nitrate uptake by plants, which would aid in reducing nitrate pollution. NPF6.3 (also known as NRT1.1), which functions as a nitrate sensor and transporter; the kinase CIPK23; and the calcium sensor CBL9 form a complex that is crucial for nitrate sensing in Arabidopsis thaliana. We identified two additional components that regulate nitrate transport, sensing, and signaling: the calcium sensor CBL1 and protein phosphatase 2C family member ABI2, which is inhibited by the stress-response hormone abscisic acid. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays and in vitro kinase assays revealed that ABI2 interacted with and dephosphorylated CIPK23 and CBL1. Coexpression studies in Xenopus oocytes and analysis of plants deficient in ABI2 indicated that ABI2 enhanced NPF6.3-dependent nitrate transport, nitrate sensing, and nitrate signaling. These findings suggest that ABI2 may functionally link stress-regulated control of growth and nitrate uptake and utilization, which are energy-expensive processes.

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