Post-translational regulation of nitrate reductase: Mechanism, physiological relevance and environmental triggers

Werner M. Kaiser, Steven C. Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Assimilatory nitrate reductase (NR) of higher plants is a most interesting enzyme, both from its central function in plant primary metabolism and from the complex regulation of its expression and control of catalytic activity and degradation. Here, present knowledge about the mechanism of post-translational regulation of NR is summarized and the properties of the regulatory enzymes involved (protein kinases, protein phosphatases and 14-3-3-binding proteins) are described. It is shown that light and oxygen availability are the major external triggers for the rapid and reversible modulation of NR activity, and that sugars and/or sugar phosphates are the internal signals which regulate the protein kinase(s) and phosphatase. It is also demonstrated that stress factors like nitrate deficiency and salinity have remarkably little direct influence on the NR activation state. Further, changes in NR activity measured in vitro are not always associated with changes in nitrate reduction rates in vivo, suggesting that NR can be under strong substrate limitation. The degradation and half-life of the NR protein also appear to be affected by NR phosphorylation and 14-3-3 binding, as NR activation always correlates positively with its stability. However, it is not known whether the molecular form of NR in vivo affects its susceptibility to proteolytic degradation, or whether factors that affect the NR activation state also independently affect the activity or induction of the NR protease(s). A second and potentially important function of NR, the production of nitric oxide (NO) from nitrite is briefly described, but it remains to be determined whether NR produces NO for pathogen/stress signalling in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1981-1989
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of experimental botany
Issue number363
StatePublished - 2001


  • 14-3-3-binding
  • Nitrate reductase
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitrite
  • Protein phosphorylation
  • Regulation
  • Signalling
  • Sugars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-translational regulation of nitrate reductase: Mechanism, physiological relevance and environmental triggers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this