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Plant J. 2007 Feb;49(4):718-28. Epub 2007 Jan 18.

AtNHX8, a member of the monovalent cation: proton antiporter-1 family in Arabidopsis thaliana, encodes a putative Li/H antiporter.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100094, China.


The Arabidopsis monovalent cation:proton antiporter-1 (CPA1) family includes eight members, AtNHX1-8. AtNHX1 and AtNHX7/SOS1 have been well characterized as tonoplast and plasma membrane Na+/H+ antiporters, respectively. The proteins AtNHX2-6 have been phylogenetically linked to AtNHX1, while AtNHX8 appears to be related to AtNHX7/SOS1. Here we report functional characterization of AtNHX8. AtNHX8 T-DNA insertion mutants are hypersensitive to lithium ions (Li+) relative to wild-type plants, but not to the other metal ions such as sodium (Na+), potassium (K+) and caesium (Cs+). AtNHX8 overexpression in a triple-deletion yeast mutant AXT3 that exhibits defective Na+/Li+ transport specifically suppresses sensitivity to Li+, but does not affect Na+ sensitivity. Likewise, AtNHX8 overexpression complemented sensitivity to Li+, but not Na+, in sos1-1 mutant seedlings, and increased Li+ tolerance of both the sos1-1 mutant and wild-type seedlings. Results of Li+ and K+ measurement of loss-of-function and gain-of-function mutants indicate that AtNHX8 may be responsible for Li+ extrusion, and may be able to maintain K+ acquisition and intracellular ion homeostasis. Subcellular localization of the AtNHX8-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) fusion protein suggested that AtNHX8 protein is targeted to the plasma membrane. Taken together, our findings suggest that AtNHX8 encodes a putative plasma membrane Li+/H+ antiporter that functions in Li detoxification and ion homeostasis in Arabidopsis.

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