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Plant Cell. 2008 Oct;20(10):2860-75. doi: 10.1105/tpc.108.058628. Epub 2008 Oct 24.

NIP6;1 is a boric acid channel for preferential transport of boron to growing shoot tissues in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Science, University of Tokyo, Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


Boron (B) in soil is taken up by roots through NIP5;1, a boric acid channel, and is loaded into the xylem by BOR1, a borate exporter. Here, the function of Arabidopsis thaliana NIP6;1, the most similar gene to NIP5;1, was studied. NIP6;1 facilitates the rapid permeation of boric acid across the membrane but is completely impermeable to water. NIP6;1 transcript accumulation is elevated in response to B deprivation in shoots but not in roots. NIP6;1 promoter-beta-glucuronidase is predominantly expressed in nodal regions of shoots, especially the phloem region of vascular tissues. Three independently identified T-DNA insertion lines for the NIP6;1 gene exhibited reduced expansion of young rosette leaves only under low-B conditions. B concentrations are reduced in young rosette leaves but not in the old leaves of these mutants. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that NIP6;1 is a boric acid channel required for proper distribution of boric acid, particularly among young developing shoot tissues. We propose that NIP6;1 is involved in xylem-phloem transfer of boric acid at the nodal regions and that the water-tight property of NIP6;1 is important for this function. It is proposed that during evolution, NIP5;1 and NIP6;1 were diversified in terms of both the specificity of their expression in plant tissues and their water permeation properties, while maintaining their ability to be induced under low B and their boric acid transport activities.

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