Members of the LBD family of transcription factors repress anthocyanin synthesis and affect additional nitrogen responses in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell. 2009 Nov;21(11):3567-84. doi: 10.1105/tpc.109.067041. Epub 2009 Nov 20.


Nitrogen (N) and nitrate (NO(3)(-)) per se regulate many aspects of plant metabolism, growth, and development. N/NO(3)(-) also suppresses parts of secondary metabolism, including anthocyanin synthesis. Molecular components for this repression are unknown. We report that three N/NO(3)(-)-induced members of the LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARY DOMAIN (LBD) gene family of transcription factors (LBD37, LBD38, and LBD39) act as negative regulators of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana. Overexpression of each of the three genes in the absence of N/NO(3)(-) strongly suppresses the key regulators of anthocyanin synthesis PAP1 and PAP2, genes in the anthocyanin-specific part of flavonoid synthesis, as well as cyanidin- but not quercetin- or kaempferol-glycoside production. Conversely, lbd37, lbd38, or lbd39 mutants accumulate anthocyanins when grown in N/NO(3)(-)-sufficient conditions and show constitutive expression of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes. The LBD genes also repress many other known N-responsive genes, including key genes required for NO(3)(-) uptake and assimilation, resulting in altered NO(3)(-) content, nitrate reductase activity/activation, protein, amino acid, and starch levels, and N-related growth phenotypes. The results identify LBD37 and its two close homologs as novel repressors of anthocyanin biosynthesis and N availability signals in general. They also show that, besides being developmental regulators, LBD genes fulfill roles in metabolic regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / biosynthesis*
  • Anthocyanins / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Glycosides / metabolism
  • Nitrates / metabolism
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Pancreatitis-Associated Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Anthocyanins
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Flavonoids
  • Glycosides
  • Nitrates
  • PAP1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • PAP2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Pancreatitis-Associated Proteins
  • REG3A protein, human
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • cyanidin
  • Nitrogen