Nitrate is both an important nutrient and a signalling molecule for plants. Although several components of the nitrate signalling pathway have been identified, their hierarchical organization remains unclear. Here we show that the localization of NLP7, a member of the RWP-RK transcription factor family, is regulated by nitrate via a nuclear retention mechanism. Genome-wide analyses revealed that NLP7 binds and modulates a majority of known nitrate signalling and assimilation genes. Our findings indicate that plants, like fungi and mammals, rely on similar nuclear retention mechanisms to instantaneously respond to the availability of key nutrients.