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Plant Physiol. 2002 Oct;130(2):784-95.

Inventory and functional characterization of the HAK potassium transporters of rice.

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Departamento de Biotecnología, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Plants take up large amounts of K(+) from the soil solution and distribute it to the cells of all organs, where it fulfills important physiological functions. Transport of K(+) from the soil solution to its final destination is mediated by channels and transporters. To better understand K(+) movements in plants, we intended to characterize the function of the large KT-HAK-KUP family of transporters in rice (Oryza sativa cv Nipponbare). By searching in databases and cDNA cloning, we have identified 17 genes (OsHAK1-17) encoding transporters of this family and obtained evidence of the existence of other two genes. Phylogenetic analysis of the encoded transporters reveals a great diversity among them, and three distant transporters, OsHAK1, OsHAK7, and OsHAK10, were expressed in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and bacterial mutants to determine their functions. The three transporters mediate K(+) influxes or effluxes, depending on the conditions of the experiment. A comparative kinetic analysis of HAK-mediated K(+) influx in yeast and in roots of K(+)-starved rice seedlings demonstrated the involvement of HAK transporters in root K(+) uptake. We discuss that all HAK transporters may mediate K(+) transport, but probably not only in the plasma membrane. Transient expression of the OsHAK10-green fluorescent protein fusion protein in living onion epidermal cells targeted this protein to the tonoplast.

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