Posttranslational regulation of the iron deficiency basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor FIT is affected by iron and nitric oxide

Johannes Meiser, Sivasenkar Lingam, Petra Bauer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding iron (Fe) sensing and regulation is important for targeting key genes for important nutritional traits like Fe content. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor FIT (for FER-LIKE FE DEFICIENCY-INDUCED TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR) controls Fe acquisition genes in dicot roots. Posttranscriptional regulation of transcription factors allows rapid adaptation to cellular changes and was also described for FIT. However, the mechanisms behind this regulation of FIT were for a long time not known. Here, we studied the posttranscriptional control mechanisms of FIT in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and identified nitric oxide as a stabilizing stimulus for FIT protein abundance. Using cycloheximide, we confirmed that the level of FIT protein was regulated by way of protein turnover in wild-type and hemagglutinin-FIT plants. Upon cycloheximide treatment, FIT activity was hardly compromised, since Fe deficiency genes like IRON-REGULATED TRANSPORTER1 and FERRIC REDUCTASE OXIDASE2 were still inducible by Fe deficiency. A small pool of "active" FIT was sufficient for the induction of Fe deficiency downstream responses. Nitric oxide inhibitors caused a decrease of FIT protein abundance and, in the wild type, also a decrease in FIT activity. This decrease of FIT protein levels was reversed by the proteasomal inhibitor MG132, suggesting that in the presence of nitric oxide FIT protein was less likely to be a target of proteasomal degradation. Independent of FIT transcription, FIT protein stability and FIT protein activity, therefore, were targets of control mechanisms in response to Fe and nitric oxide. We summarize our results in a model that explains the different steps of FIT regulation integrating the plant signals that control FIT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2154-2166
Number of pages13
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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