Nitric oxide (NO) is emerging as an important signalling molecule with diverse physiological functions in plants. In the current study, changes in gene expression in response to 0.1 mm and 1.0 mm sodium nitroprusside (SNP), a donor of NO, were studied in Arabidopsis using the whole genome ATH1 microarray, representing over 24 000 genes. We observed 342 up-regulated and 80 down-regulated genes in response to NO treatments. These included 126 novel genes with unknown functions. Most of these changes were specific to NO treatment, as we observed a reverse trend when the plants were treated with NO scavenger, 2-[4-carboxyphenyl]-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxy-3-oxide (c-PTIO). Hierarchical clustering revealed 162 genes showing a dose-dependent increase in signal from 0.1 mm SNP to 1.0 mm SNP treatment. We observed the up-regulation of several genes encoding disease-resistance proteins, WRKY proteins, transcription factors, zinc finger proteins, glutathione S-transferases, ABC transporters, kinases and biosynthetic genes of ethylene, jasmonic acid, lignin and alkaloids. This report provides an insight into the molecular basis for the seemingly diverse biological functions of NO in plants. Interestingly, about 2.0% of the genes in Arabidopsis responded to NO treatment, about 10% of which were transcription factors. NO may also influence the plant's signal transduction network as indicated by the transcriptional activation of several protein kinases, including a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase. We identified many genes previously not shown to be associated with NO responses in plants, and this is the first report of NO responsive genes based on a whole genome microarray.
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