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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 9;279(15):15348-55. Epub 2004 Jan 15.

The Arabidopsis copper transporter COPT1 functions in root elongation and pollen development.

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Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular, Universitat de València, Ave. Dr. Moliner, 50, E-46100 Burjassot, Valencia, Spain.


Copper plays a dual role in aerobic organisms, as both an essential and a potentially toxic element. To ensure copper availability while avoiding its toxic effects, organisms have developed complex homeostatic networks to control copper uptake, distribution, and utilization. In eukaryotes, including yeasts and mammals, high affinity copper uptake is mediated by the Ctr family of copper transporters. This work is the first report on the physiological function of copper transport in Arabidopsis thaliana. We have studied the expression pattern of COPT1 in transgenic plants expressing a reporter gene under the control of the COPT1 promoter. The reporter gene is highly expressed in embryos, trichomes, stomata, pollen, and root tips. The involvement of COPT1 in copper acquisition was investigated in CaMV35S::COPT1 antisense transgenic plants. Consistent with a decrease in COPT1 expression and the associated copper deprivation, these plants exhibit increased mRNA levels of genes that are down-regulated by copper, decreased rates of (64)Cu uptake by seedlings and reduced steady state levels of copper as measured by atomic absorption spectroscopy in mature leaves. Interestingly, COPT1 antisense plants also display dramatically increased root length, which is completely and specifically reversed by copper addition, and an increased sensitivity to growth inhibition by the copper-specific chelator bathocuproine disulfonic acid. Furthermore, COPT1 antisense plants exhibit pollen development defects that are specifically reversed by copper. Taken together, these studies reveal striking plant growth and development roles for copper acquisition by high affinity copper transporters.

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