Dissection of iron signaling and iron accumulation by overexpression of subgroup Ib bHLH039 protein

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 7;7(1):10911. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11171-7.


Iron is an essential growth determinant for plants, and plants acquire this micronutrient in amounts they need in their environment. Plants can increase iron uptake in response to a regulatory transcription factor cascade. Arabidopsis thaliana serves as model plant to identify and characterize iron regulation genes. Here, we show that overexpression of subgroup Ib bHLH transcription factor bHLH039 (39Ox) caused constitutive iron acquisition responses, which resulted in enhanced iron contents in leaves and seeds. Transcriptome analysis demonstrated that 39Ox plants displayed simultaneously gene expression patterns characteristic of iron deficiency and iron stress signaling. Thereby, we could dissect iron deficiency response regulation. The transcription factor FIT, which is required to regulate iron uptake, was essential for the 39Ox phenotype. We provide evidence that subgroup Ib transcription factors are involved in FIT transcriptional regulation. Our findings pose interesting questions to the feedback control of iron homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Homeostasis
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • FIT1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • bHLH39 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Iron