Proteolysis and nitrogen: emerging insights

J Exp Bot. 2019 Apr 12;70(7):2009-2019. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erz024.


Nitrogen (N) is a core component of fertilizers used in modern agriculture to increase yields and thus to help feed a growing global population. However, this comes at a cost to the environment, through run-off of excess N as a result of poor N-use efficiency (NUE) by crops. An obvious remedy to this problem would therefore be the improvement of NUE, which requires advancing our understanding on N homeostasis, sensing, and uptake. Proteolytic pathways are linked to N homeostasis as they recycle proteins that contain N and carbon; however, emerging data suggest that their functions extend beyond this simple recycling. Here, we highlight roles of proteolytic pathways in non-symbiotic and symbiotic N uptake and in systemic N sensing. We also offer a novel view in which we suggest that proteolytic pathways have roles in N homeostasis that differ from their accepted function in recycling.

Keywords: Autophagy; neddylation; nitrogen; proteases; proteasome; sumoylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Nitrogen / metabolism*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis*
  • Symbiosis


  • Plant Proteins
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Nitrogen