Expression of miR398 is induced in response to copper deficiency and is involved in the degradation of mRNAs encoding copper/zinc superoxide dismutase in Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that SPL7 (for SQUAMOSA promoter binding protein-like7) is essential for this response of miR398. SPL7 is homologous to Copper response regulator1, the transcription factor that is required for switching between plastocyanin and cytochrome c(6) in response to copper deficiency in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. SPL7 bound directly to GTAC motifs in the miR398 promoter in vitro, and these motifs were essential and sufficient for the response to copper deficiency in vivo. SPL7 is also required for the expression of multiple microRNAs, miR397, miR408, and miR857, involved in copper homeostasis and of genes encoding several copper transporters and a copper chaperone, indicating its central role in response to copper deficiency. Consistent with this idea, the growth of spl7 plants was severely impaired under low-copper conditions.
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