Research groups from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the
University of Münster (WWU) have discovered a new switch that plants use to
control their responses to iron deficiency.
Iron regulation is an important model system in plant biology for
understanding how cellular regulation processes impact on each other and the
related signalling paths. The HHU and WWU research teams have examined the
special mechanisms and dynamics of a protein named "FIT" in iron uptake and
have discovered cellular information processes that impact on FIT. The
protein was discovered by Prof. Petra Bauer's group.
The regulation mechanisms are being examined at the Institute of Botany at
HHU. FIT can be present in an active and inactive state. It plays a key role
in regulating iron uptake in Arabidopsis thaliana. How the plant decides how
much iron to absorb and how to transmit this information to the FIT
regulator is, however, the subject of current research at HHU. The WWU
research group looked at calcium signal transduction which involves response
to iron deficiency. They then analyzed the iron concentration in the plants.
The precise link between iron and calcium was unclear. However, the research
groups have found that iron deficiency triggers calcium signals, having a
significant influence on the FIT regulation mechanism. They describe how the
enzyme CIPK11 linked to calcium detection interacts with and mark the FIT
protein. Plants ultimately use this FIT activation to control iron uptake in
its roots and iron storage in its seeds.