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Plant Physiol. 1998 Aug;117(4):1143-52.

Characterization of a maize tonoplast aquaporin expressed in zones of cell division and elongation.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0116, USA.


We studied aquaporins in maize (Zea mays), an important crop in which numerous studies on plant water relations have been carried out. A maize cDNA, ZmTIP1, was isolated by reverse transcription-coupled PCR using conserved motifs from plant aquaporins. The derived amino acid sequence of ZmTIP1 shows 76% sequence identity with the tonoplast aquaporin gamma-TIP (tonoplast intrinsic protein) from Arabidopsis. Expression of ZmTIP1 in Xenopus laevis oocytes showed that it increased the osmotic water permeability of oocytes 5-fold; this water transport was inhibited by mercuric chloride. A cross-reacting antiserum made against bean alpha-TIP was used for immunocytochemical localization of ZmTIP1. These results indicate that this and/or other aquaporins is abundantly present in the small vacuoles of meristematic cells. Northern analysis demonstrated that ZmTIP1 is expressed in all plant organs. In situ hybridization showed a high ZmTIP1 expression in meristems and zones of cell enlargement: tips of primary and lateral roots, leaf primordia, and male and female inflorescence meristems. The high ZmTIP1 expression in meristems and expanding cells suggests that ZmTIP1 is needed (a) for vacuole biogenesis and (b) to support the rapid influx of water into vacuoles during cell expansion.

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