Discovery of a protein's key role in plant metabolism

Discovery of a protein's key role in plant metabolism

Wed, 08/02/2023

Press release, Publication

Publication of the RDP in the journal The Plant Cell on February 8, 2023. Press realease of the INRAE on February 8, 2023.

Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and therefore agricultural production. Understanding how plants assimilate nitrogen is essential for developing sustainable agriculture using less fertiliser. Teams from INRAE, ENS de Lyon, the University of Poitiers, the Max Planck Institute of the Paris-Saclay University and the Université Paris Cité, with the participation of the CNRS(1) , have discovered the major role of a protein in the nitrogen assimilation metabolism. Their results, published in The Plant Cell, pave the way for developing plant varieties that are more efficient at using soil nitrogen and thus reducing the use of fertilisers in agriculture.


Nitrate signaling improves plant growth under limited nitrate availability and, hence, optimal resource use for crop production. Whereas several transcriptional regulators of nitrate signaling have been identified, including the Arabidopsis thaliana transcription factor NIN-LIKE PROTEIN7 (NLP7), additional regulators are expected to fine-tune this pivotal physiological response. Here, we characterized Arabidopsis NLP2 as a top-tier transcriptional regulator of the early nitrate response gene regulatory network. NLP2 interacts with NLP7 in vivo and shares key molecular features such as nitrate-dependent nuclear localization, DNA binding motif, and some target genes with NLP7. Genetic, genomic, and metabolic approaches revealed a specific role for NLP2 in the nitrate-dependent regulation of carbon and energy-related processes that likely influence plant growth under distinct nitrogen environments. Our findings highlight the complementarity and specificity of NLP2 and NLP7 in orchestrating a multi-tiered nitrate regulatory network that links nitrate assimilation with carbon and energy metabolism for efficient nitrogen use and biomass production.

Reference: The Arabidopsis transcription factor NLP2 regulates early nitrate responses and integrates nitrate assimilation with energy and carbon skeleton supply. Mickaël Durand, Virginie Brehaut, Gilles Clement, Zsolt Kelemen, Julien Macé, Regina Feil, Garry Duville, Alexandra Launay-Avon, Christine Paysant-Le Roux, John E Lunn, François Roudier, Anne Krapp. The Plant Cell, February 8, 2023.

(1) Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin (INRAE/AgroParisTech/Paris-Saclay University), the Écologie et biologie des interactions laboratory (CNRS/University of Poitiers), the Plant Reproduction and Development Laboratory (ENS de Lyon/INRAE/CNRS) and the Institut des sciences des plantes de Paris Saclay (Paris-Saclay University/CNRS/INRAE/Université Paris Cité) participated in these results.

Image credits: ENS de Lyon - Vincent Moncorgé.