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Keywords:

  • MYB;
  • glutamine synthetase;
  • transcription;
  • lignin;
  • nitrogen

Summary

In Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), ammonium assimilation is catalysed by glutamine synthetase (GS) [EC 6.3.1.2], which is encoded by two genes, PsGS1a and PsGS1b. PsGS1b is expressed in the vascular tissue throughout the plant body, where it is believed to play a role in recycling ammonium released by various facets of metabolism. The mechanisms that may underpin the transcriptional regulation of PsGS1b were explored. The PsGS1b promoter contains a region that is enriched in previously characterized cis-acting elements, known as AC elements. Pine nuclear proteins bound these AC element-rich regions in a tissue-specific manner. As previous experiments had shown that R2R3-MYB transcription factors could interact with AC elements, the capacity of the AC elements in the PsGS1b promoter to interact with MYB proteins was examined. Two MYB proteins from loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), PtMYB1 and PtMYB4, bound to the PsGS1b promoter were able to activate transcription from this promoter in yeast, arabidopsis and pine cells. Immunolocalization experiments revealed that the two MYB proteins were most abundant in cells previously shown to accumulate PsGS1b transcripts. Immunoprecipitation analysis and supershift electrophoretic mobility shift assays implicated these same two proteins in the formation of complexes between pine nuclear extracts and the PsGS1b promoter. Given that these MYB proteins were previously shown to have the capacity to activate gene expression related to lignin biosynthesis, we hypothesize that they may function to co-regulate lignification, a process that places significant demands on nitrogen recycling, and GS, the major enzyme involved in the nitrogen recycling pathway.