Cytokinin is an adenine derivative plant hormone that generally regulates plant cell division and differentiation in conjunction with auxin. We report that a major cue for the negative regulation of sulfur acquisition is executed by cytokinin response 1 (CRE1)/wooden leg (WOL)/Arabidopsis histidine kinase 4 (AHK4) cytokinin receptor in Arabidopsis root. We constructed a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter system that generally displays the expression of the high-affinity sulfate transporter SULTR1;2 in Arabidopsis roots. GFP under the control of SULTR1;2 promoter showed typical sulfur responses that correlate with the changes in SULTR1;2 mRNA levels; accumulation of GFP was induced by sulfur limitation (-S), but was repressed in the presence of reduced sulfur compounds. Among the plant hormones tested, cytokinin significantly downregulated the expression of SULTR1;2. SULTR1;1 conducting sulfate uptake in sultr1;2 mutant was similarly downregulated by cytokinin. Downregulation of SULTR1;1 and SULTR1;2 by cytokinin correlated with the decrease in sulfate uptake activities in roots. The effect of cytokinin on sulfate uptake was moderated in the cre1-1 mutant, providing genetic evidence for involvement of CRE1/WOL/AHK4 in the negative regulation of high-affinity sulfate transporters. These data demonstrated the physiological importance of the cytokinin-dependent regulatory pathway in acquisition of sulfate in roots. Our results suggested that two different modes of regulation, represented as the -S induction and the cytokinin-dependent repression of sulfate transporters, independently control the uptake of sulfate in Arabidopsis roots.
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