Nitrate reductase transcript is expressed in the primary response of maize to environmental nitrate

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Department of Biological Sciences


The nitrate induction of NADH:nitrate reductase mRNA in maize roots, scutella and leaves was investigated in the presence and absence of inhibitors of protein synthesis. In the absence of inhibitors, nitrate treatment caused a fairly rapid (2 to 3 h) increase in the level of the nitrate reductase transcript in all tissues. When cytoplasmic protein synthesis was inhibited by cycloheximide, nitrate reductase mRNA was induced by nitrate in all tissues to levels equal to or greater than those found with nitrate treatment alone. Treatment of maize tissues with cycloheximide in the absence of nitrate had only a small effect on the accumulation of the nitrate reductase mRNA. Inhibition of organellar protein synthesis with chloramphenicol also had little or no effect on nitrate-induced nitrate reductase mRNA accumuiation in roots and scutella, but did appear to partially inhibit appearance of transcript in leaves. Excision of scutella in the absence of nitrate was sufficient to cause some accumulation of the nitrate reductase transcript. Since cytoplasmic protein synthesis was not required for expression of nitrate reductase transcripts, induction of these transcripts by nitrate is a primary response of maize to this environmental signal. Thus, it appears that the signal transduction system mediating this response is constitutively expressed in roots, scutella and leaves of maize.

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Plant Molecular Biology