Background: Our previous studies concluded that metabolic disorder in the basal portions of rice shoots caused by a lack of cytosolic glutamine synthetase1;2 (GS1;2) resulted in a severe reduction in the outgrowth of tillers. Rice mutants lacking GS1;2 (gs1;2 mutants) showed a remarkable reduction in the contents of both glutamine and asparagine in the basal portions of shoots. In the current study, we attempted to reveal the mechanisms for this decrease in asparagine content using rice mutants lacking either GS1;2 or asparagine synthetase 1 (AS1). The contributions of the availability of glutamine and asparagine to the outgrowth of rice tillers were investigated. Results: Rice has two AS genes, and the enzymes catalyse asparagine synthesis from glutamine. In the basal portions of rice shoots, expression of OsAS1, the major species in this tissue, was reduced in gs1;2 mutants, whereas OsAS2 expression was relatively constant. OsAS1 was expressed in phloem companion cells of the nodal vascular anastomoses connected to the axillary bud vasculatures in the basal portions of wild-type shoots, whereas cell-specific expression was markedly reduced in gs1;2 mutants. OsAS1 was up-regulated significantly by NH4 + supply in the wild type but not in gs1;2 mutants. When GS reactions were inhibited by methionine sulfoximine, OsAS1 was up-regulated by glutamine but not by NH4 +. The rice mutants lacking AS1 (as1 mutants) showed a decrease in asparagine content in the basal portions of shoots. However, glutamine content and tiller number were less affected by the lack of AS1. Conclusion: These results indicate that in phloem companion cells of the nodal vascular anastomoses, asparagine synthesis is largely dependent on glutamine or its related metabolite-responsive AS1. Thus, the decrease in glutamine content caused by a lack of GS1;2 is suggested to result in low expression of OsAS1, decreasing asparagine content. However, the availability of asparagine generated from AS1 reactions is apparently less effective for the outgrowth of tillers. With respect to the tiller number and the contents of glutamine and asparagine in gs1;2 and as1 mutants, the availability of glutamine rather than asparagine in basal portions of rice shoots may be required for the outgrowth of rice tillers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas