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Plant Physiol. 2008 Apr;146(4):1964-73. doi: 10.1104/pp.107.113282. Epub 2008 Feb 27.

Iron-induced turnover of the Arabidopsis IRON-REGULATED TRANSPORTER1 metal transporter requires lysine residues.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA.


Iron is an essential micronutrient but is toxic if accumulated at high levels. Thus, iron uptake and distribution in plants are controlled by precise regulatory mechanisms. IRON-REGULATED TRANSPORTER1 (IRT1) is the major high affinity iron transporter responsible for iron uptake from the soil in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Previously, we showed that IRT1 is subject to posttranscriptional regulation; when expressed from the constitutive cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter, IRT1 protein accumulates only in iron-deficient roots. IRT1 contains an intracellular loop that may be critical for posttranslational regulation by metals. Of particular interest are a histidine (His) motif (HGHGHGH) that might bind metals and two lysine residues that could serve as attachment sites for ubiquitin. We constructed a set of mutant IRT1 alleles: IRT1H154Q, IRT1H156Q, IRT1H158Q, IRT1H160Q, IRT14HQ (quadruple His mutant), IRT1K146R, IRT1K171R, and a double mutant (IRT1K146R,K171R). Mutation of the His or lysine residues did not eliminate the ability of IRT1 to transport iron or zinc. Expression of each of the IRT1 variants and an IRT1intact construct in plants from the 35S promoter revealed that either K146 or K171 is required for iron-induced protein turnover, and 35S-IRT1K146R,K171R plants contain higher levels of iron as compared to 35S-IRT1 and wild type. Furthermore, accumulation of metals in 35S-IRT1K146R,K171R plants was not associated with an increase in ferric chelate reductase activity; this result indicates that, at least under conditions when iron is abundant, reduction of ferric iron may not be the rate-limiting step in iron uptake by strategy I plants such as Arabidopsis.

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