Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Diurnal changes of transcript levels for key enzymes in nitrate and organic acid metabolism and the accompanying changes of enzyme activities and metabolite levels were investigated in nitrogen-sufficient wild-type tobacco, in transfomants with decreased expression of nitrate reductase, and in nitrate-deficient wild-type tobacco. (i) In nitrogen-sufficient wild-type plants, transcript levels for nitrate reductase (NR, EC 184.108.40.206), nitrite reductase (NIR, EC 220.127.116.11) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC, EC 18.104.22.168) were high at the end of the night and decreased markedly during the light period. The levels of these three transcripts were increased and the diurnal changes were damped in genotypes with decreased expression of nitrate reductase. The levels of these transcripts were very low in nitrate-limited wild-type plants, except for a small rise after irrigation with 0·2 mM nitrate. (ii) The levels of the transcripts for cytosolic pyruvate kinase (PK, EC 22.214.171.124), mitochondrial citrate synthase (CS, EC 126.96.36.199) and NADP-isocitrate dehydrogenase (NADP-ICDH, EC 188.8.131.52) were highest at the end of the light period and beginning of the night. These three transcripts increase and the diurnal changes were damped in genotypes with decreased expression of NR. (iii) The diurnal changes of transcript levels were accompanied by changes in the activities of the encoded enzymes. The activities of NR and PEPC were highest in the early part of the light period, whereas the activities of PK and NADP-ICDH were highest later in the light period and during the first part of the night and CS activity was highest at the end of the night. Activity of PEPC, PK, CS and NADP-ICDH increased and the diurnal changes were damped in genotypes with low expression of NR. Activity of all four enzymes decreased in nitrate-limited wild-type plants. (iv) In the light, malate accumulated, citrate decreased, and about 30% of the assimilated nitrate accumulated temporarily as glutamine, ammonium, glycine and serine. These changes were reversed during the night. (v) It is proposed that the diurnal changes of expression facilitate preferential synthesis of malate to act as a counter-anion for pH regulation during the first part of the light period when NR activity is high, and preferential synthesis of 2-oxoglutarate to act as a nitrogen acceptor later in the day when large amounts of nitrogen have accumulated in ammonium, glutamine and other amino acids including glycine in the photorespiration pathway, and NR activity has been decreased.
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