Rice is a poor source of micronutrients such as iron and zinc. To help clarify the molecular mechanisms that regulate metal mobilization from leaves to developing seeds, we conducted suppression subtractive hybridization analysis in flag leaves of two rice cultivars. Flag leaves are the major source of remobilized metals for developing seeds. We isolated 78 sequences up-regulated in flag leaves at the grain filling stage relative to the panicle exertion stage. Differential expression of selected genes (encoding 7 transport proteins, the OsNAS3 enzyme and the OsNAC5 transcription factor) was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. We show that OsNAC5 expression is up-regulated by natural (aging) and induced senescence processes (dark, ABA application, high salinity, cold and Fe-deficiency) and its expression is not affected in the presence of 6-benzylaminopurine (a senescence inhibitor) under dark-induced senescence. Salt induction of OsNAC5 expression is abolished by nicotinamide, an inhibitor of ABA effects. This result and the presence of cis-acting elements in the promoter region of the OsNAC5 gene suggest an ABA-dependent regulation. Using four different rice cultivars, we show that OsNAC5 up-regulation is higher and earlier in flag leaves and panicles of IR75862 plants, which have higher seed concentrations of Fe, Zn and protein. We suggest that OsNAC5 is a novel senescence-associated ABA-dependent NAC transcription factor and its function could be related to Fe, Zn and amino acids remobilization from green tissues to seeds.
Planta (2009) 230 (5) 985-1002 [doi: 10.1007/s00425-009-1000-9]