The OsNRT2.3a and OsNRT2.3b isoforms play important roles in the uptake and transport of nitrate during rice growth. However, it is unclear which cis-acting element controls the transcription of OsNRT2.3 into these specific isoforms. In this study, we used a yeast one-hybrid assay to obtain the TATA-box binding protein OsTBP2.1, which binds to the TATA-box of OsNRT2.3, and verified its important role through transient expression and RNA-seq. We found that the TATA-box of OsNRT2.3 mutants and binding protein OsTBP2.1 together increased the transcription ratio of OsNRT2.3b to OsNRT2.3a. The overexpression of OsTBP2.1 promoted nitrogen uptake and increased rice yield compared with the wild-type; however, the OsTBP2.1 T-DNA mutant lines exhibited the opposite trend. Detailed analyses demonstrated that the TATA-box was the key cis-regulatory element for OsNRT2.3 to be transcribed into OsNRT2.3a and OsNRT2.3b. Additionally, this key cis-regulatory element, together with the binding protein OsTBP2.1, promoted the development of rice and increased grain yield.
Keywords: OsNRT2.3a; OsNRT2.3b; OsTBP2.1; TATA-box; rice.