WRKY1 Mediates Transcriptional Regulation of Light and Nitrogen Signaling Pathways

Plant responses to multiple environmental stimuli must be integrated to enable them to adapt their metabolism and development. Light and nitrogen (N) are two such stimuli whose downstream signaling pathways must be intimately connected to each other to control plant energy status. Here, we describe the functional role of the WRKY1 transcription factor in controlling genome-wide transcriptional reprogramming of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) leaves in response to individual and combined light and N signals. This includes a cross-regulatory network consisting of 724 genes regulated by WRKY1 and involved in both N and light signaling pathways. The loss of WRKY1 gene function has marked effects on the light and N response of genes involved in N uptake and assimilation (primary metabolism) as well as stress response pathways (secondary metabolism). Our results at the transcriptome and at the metabolite analysis level support a model in which WRKY1 enables plants to activate genes involved in the recycling of cellular carbon resources when light is limiting but N is abundant and upregulate amino acid metabolism when both light and N are limiting. In this potential energy conservation mechanism, WRKY1 integrates information about cellular N and light energy resources to trigger changes in plant metabolism.

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