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Plant Physiol. 2012 Sep;160(1):498-510. doi: 10.1104/pp.112.194936. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

The rice monovalent cation transporter OsHKT2;4: revisited ionic selectivity.

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  • 1Biochimie et Physiologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Unité Mixte de Recherche, 5004 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/386 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique/SupAgro-M/Université Montpellier 2, Campus SupAgro-M, Montpellier cedex 2, France.


The family of plant membrane transporters named HKT (for high-affinity K(+) transporters) can be subdivided into subfamilies 1 and 2, which, respectively, comprise Na(+)-selective transporters and transporters able to function as Na(+)-K(+) symporters, at least when expressed in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) or Xenopus oocytes. Surprisingly, a subfamily 2 member from rice (Oryza sativa), OsHKT2;4, has been proposed to form cation/K(+) channels or transporters permeable to Ca(2+) when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Here, OsHKT2;4 functional properties were reassessed in Xenopus oocytes. A Ca(2+) permeability through OsHKT2;4 was not detected, even at very low external K(+) concentration, as shown by highly negative OsHKT2;4 zero-current potential in high Ca(2+) conditions and lack of sensitivity of OsHKT2;4 zero-current potential and conductance to external Ca(2+). The Ca(2+) permeability previously attributed to OsHKT2;4 probably resulted from activation of an endogenous oocyte conductance. OsHKT2;4 displayed a high permeability to K(+) compared with that to Na(+) (permeability sequence: K(+) > Rb(+) ≈ Cs(+) > Na(+) ≈ Li(+) ≈ NH(4)(+)). Examination of OsHKT2;4 current sensitivity to external pH suggested that H(+) is not significantly permeant through OsHKT2;4 in most physiological ionic conditions. Further analyses in media containing both Na(+) and K(+) indicated that OsHKT2;4 functions as K(+)-selective transporter at low external Na(+), but transports also Na(+) at high (>10 mm) Na(+) concentrations. These data identify OsHKT2;4 as a new functional type in the K(+) and Na(+)-permeable HKT transporter subfamily. Furthermore, the high permeability to K(+) in OsHKT2;4 supports the hypothesis that this system is dedicated to K(+) transport in the plant.

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