Background: The PII proteins constitute a large superfamily, present in all domains of life. Until now, PII proteins research in Chloroplastida (green algae and land plants) has mainly focused on post-translation regulation of these signal transductors. Emerging evidence suggests that PII level is tightly controlled with regard to the nitrogen source and the physiological state of cells. Result: Here we identify that a balance of positive (nitrate and nitrite) and negative (nitric oxide) signals regulates Chlamydomonas GLB1. We found that PII expression is downregulated by ammonium through a nitric oxide (NO)-dependent mechanism. We show that nitrate reductase (NR) and its partner, truncated hemoglobin 1 (THB1), participate in a signaling pathway for dual control of GLB1 expression. Moreover, NO dependent guanilate cyclase appeared to be involved in the negative control of GLB1 transcription. Conclusion: This study has revealed the existence of the complex GLB1 control at transcription level, which is dependent on nitrogen source. Importantly, we found that GLB1 gene expression pattern is very similar to that observed for nitrate assimilation genes, suggesting interconnecting/coordinating PII-dependent and nitrate assimilation pathways.
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