Initial steps of aspartate-derived biosynthesis pathway (Asp pathway) producing Lys, Thr, Met and Ile are catalyzed by bifunctional (AK/HSD) and monofunctional (AK-lys) aspartate kinase (AK) enzymes. Here, we show that transcription of all AK genes is negatively regulated under darkness and low sugar conditions. By using yeast one-hybrid assays and complementary chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses in Arabidopsis cells, the bZIP transcription factors ABI5 and DPBF4 were identified, capable of interacting with the G-box-containing enhancer of AK/HSD1 promoter. Elevated transcript levels of DPBF4 and ABI5 under darkness and low sugar conditions coincide with the repression of AK gene expression. Overexpression of ABI5, but not DPBF4, further increases this AK transcription suppression. Concomitantly, it also increases the expression of asparagines synthetase 1 (ASN1) that shifts aspartate utilization towards asparagine formation. However, in abi5 or dpbf4 mutant and abi5, dpbf4 double mutant the repression of AK expression is maintained, indicating a functional redundancy with other bZIP-TFs. A dominant-negative version of DPBF4 fused to the SRDX repressor domain of SUPERMAN could counteract the repression and stimulate AK expression under low sugar and darkness in planta. This effect was verified by showing that DPBF4-SRDX fails to recognize the AK/HSD1 enhancer sequence in yeast one-hybrid assays, but increases heterodimmer formation with DPBF4 and ABI5, as estimated by yeast two-hybrid assays. Hence it is likely that heterodimerization with DPBF4-SRDX inhibits the binding of redundantly functioning bZIP-TFs to the promoters of AK genes and thereby releases the repressing effect. These data highlight a novel transcription control of the chloroplast aspartate pathway that operates under energy limiting conditions.
- Aspartate kinase