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Plant Cell. 2007 Aug;19(8):2636-52. Epub 2007 Aug 10.

The organization of high-affinity ammonium uptake in Arabidopsis roots depends on the spatial arrangement and biochemical properties of AMT1-type transporters.

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  • 1Molecular Plant Nutrition, Institute of Plant Nutrition, University of Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany.


The AMMONIUM TRANSPORTER (AMT) family comprises six isoforms in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we describe the complete functional organization of root-expressed AMTs for high-affinity ammonium uptake. High-affinity influx of (15)N-labeled ammonium in two transposon-tagged amt1;2 lines was reduced by 18 to 26% compared with wild-type plants. Enrichment of the AMT1;2 protein in the plasma membrane and localization of AMT1;2 promoter activity in the endodermis and root cortex indicated that AMT1;2 mediates the uptake of ammonium entering the root via the apoplasmic transport route. An amt1;1 amt1;2 amt1;3 amt2;1 quadruple mutant (qko) showed severe growth depression under ammonium supply and maintained only 5 to 10% of wild-type high-affinity ammonium uptake capacity. Transcriptional upregulation of AMT1;5 in nitrogen-deficient rhizodermal and root hair cells and the ability of AMT1;5 to transport ammonium in yeast suggested that AMT1;5 accounts for the remaining uptake capacity in qko. Triple and quadruple amt insertion lines revealed in vivo ammonium substrate affinities of 50, 234, 61, and 4.5 muM for AMT1;1, AMT1;2, AMT1;3, and AMT1;5, respectively, but no ammonium influx activity for AMT2;1. These data suggest that two principle means of achieving effective ammonium uptake in Arabidopsis roots are the spatial arrangement of AMT1-type ammonium transporters and the distribution of their transport capacities at different substrate affinities.

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