J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2006, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (1): 75-84.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2006.00210.x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Further Analysis of the Function of AtBHLH29 in Regu- lating the Iron Uptake Process in Arabidopsis thaliana

Juan Zhang, Hui-Fen Zhu, Hui Liang, Kun-Fan Liu, Ai-Min Zhang, Hong-Qing Ling and Dao-Wen Wang   

  • Published:2006-01-07

Abstract: Using T-DNA insertion and chemical mutants, two recent studies have shown that AtBHLH29, encoding a putative basic helix-loop-helix (BHLH) protein, is involved in regulating the iron uptake process in Arabidopsis thaliana. Herein, we report that RNA interference (RNAi) mutants can be used to reveal more accurately the genetic function of AtBHLH29. We compared the iron deficiency responses of seven RNAi strains that contained decreasing amounts of AtBHLH29 transcripts. Under high iron conditions (50 μmol/L iron), only in the most severe RNAi strains (R101, R111, and R119) was plant growth significantly retarded. However, these mutants could still survive and produce seeds. This suggests that the function of AtBHLH29 is beneficial, but not absolutely essential, to plant growth when iron supply is not limiting. Under low iron conditions (less than 10 μmol/L iron), the R111 and R119 strains died prematurely, demonstrating that AtBHLH29 is absolutely necessary for plant survival when iron supply is restricted. The transcription of AtBHLH29 was essential for the expression of AtFRO2 (encoding the ferric chelate reductase). In contrast, the expression of AtIRT1 (encoding the high-affinity iron transporter) was not so strongly dependent upon the transcription of AtBHLH29. By transient expression, we found that the AtBHLH29-GUS fusion protein was targeted specifically to the nucleus in plant cells. Interestingly, the nuclear localization of AtBHLH29-GUS was abolished when the four consecutive arginine residues located in the basic region of the putative AtBHLH29 protein were replaced by alanine residues by mutagenesis. The implications of our findings on further studies of the mechanism underlying the function of AtBHLH29 are discussed.(Author for correspondence.Tel (Fax): 010 6485 4467; E-mails: hqling@genetics.ac.cn; dwwang@genetics.ac.cn)

Key words: Arabidopsis, AtBHLH29, basic helix-loop-helix protein, iron, RNA interference.

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