We show that NITRATE REGULATORY GENE2 (NRG2), which we identified using forward genetics, mediates nitrate signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. A mutation in NRG2 disrupted the induction of nitrate-responsive genes after nitrate treatment by an ammonium-independent mechanism. The nitrate content in roots was lower in the mutants than in the wild type, which may have resulted from reduced expression of NRT1.1 (also called NPF6.3, encoding a nitrate transporter/receptor) and upregulation of NRT1.8 (also called NPF7.2, encoding a xylem nitrate transporter). Genetic and molecular data suggest that NRG2 functions upstream of NRT1.1 in nitrate signaling. Furthermore, NRG2 directly interacts with the nitrate regulator NLP7 in the nucleus, but nuclear retention of NLP7 in response to nitrate is not dependent on NRG2. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that genes involved in four nitrogen-related clusters including nitrate transport and response to nitrate were differentially expressed in the nrg2 mutants. A nitrogen compound transport cluster containing some members of the NRT/PTR family was regulated by both NRG2 and NRT1.1, while no nitrogen-related clusters showed regulation by both NRG2 and NLP7. Thus, NRG2 plays a key role in nitrate regulation in part through modulating NRT1.1 expression and may function with NLP7 via their physical interaction.
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