Journal Article

Resolving the Role of Plant Glutamate Dehydrogenase. I. in vivo Real Time Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Experiments

Soraya Labboun, Thérèse Tercé-Laforgue, Albrecht Roscher, Magali Bedu, Francesco M. Restivo, Christos N. Velanis, Damianos S. Skopelitis, Panagiotis N. Moshou, Kalliopi A. Roubelakis-Angelakis, Akira Suzuki and Bertrand Hirel

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 50, issue 10, pages 1761-1773
Published in print October 2009 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI:

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  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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In higher plants the glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) enzyme catalyzes the reversible amination of 2-oxoglutarate to form glutamate, using ammonium as a substrate. For a better understanding of the physiological function of GDH either in ammonium assimilation or in the supply of 2-oxoglutarate, we used transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) plants overexpressing the two genes encoding the enzyme. An in vivo real time 15N-nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy approach allowed the demonstration that, when the two GDH genes were overexpressed individually or simultaneously, the transgenic plant leaves did not synthesize glutamate in the presence of ammonium when glutamine synthetase (GS) was inhibited. In contrast we confirmed that the primary function of GDH is to deaminate Glu. When the two GDH unlabeled substrates ammonium and Glu were provided simultaneously with either [15N]Glu or 15NH4+ respectively, we found that the ammonium released from the deamination of Glu was reassimilated by the enzyme GS, suggesting the occurrence of a futile cycle recycling both ammonium and Glu. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that the GDH enzyme, in conjunction with NADH-GOGAT, contributes to the control of leaf Glu homeostasis, an amino acid that plays a central signaling and metabolic role at the interface of the carbon and nitrogen assimilatory pathways. Thus, in vivo NMR spectroscopy appears to be an attractive technique to follow the flux of metabolites in both normal and genetically modified plants.

Keywords: Ammonium; Glutamate; Glutamate dehydrogenase; Gene overexpression; Homoeostasis; Tobacco

Journal Article.  8133 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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