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Plant Physiol. 2009 Feb;149(2):894-904. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.130294. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

AtHMA3, a P1B-ATPase allowing Cd/Zn/Co/Pb vacuolar storage in Arabidopsis.

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l'Energie Atomique, DSV, IBEB, Lab Echanges Membran and Signalisation, Saint-Paul-lez-Durance F-13108, France.


The Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) Heavy Metal Associated3 (AtHMA3) protein belongs to the P1B-2 subgroup of the P-type ATPase family, which is involved in heavy metal transport. In a previous study, we have shown, using heterologous expression in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, that in the presence of toxic metals, AtHMA3 was able to phenotypically complement the cadmium/lead (Cd/Pb)-hypersensitive strain ycf1 but not the zinc (Zn)-hypersensitive strain zrc1. In this study, we demonstrate that AtHMA3 in planta is located in the vacuolar membrane, with a high expression level in guard cells, hydathodes, vascular tissues, and the root apex. Confocal imaging in the presence of the Zn/Cd fluorescent probe BTC-5N revealed that AtHMA3 participates in the vacuolar storage of Cd. A T-DNA insertional mutant was found more sensitive to Zn and Cd. Conversely, ectopic overexpression of AtHMA3 improved plant tolerance to Cd, cobalt, Pb, and Zn; Cd accumulation increased by about 2- to 3-fold in plants overexpressing AtHMA3 compared with wild-type plants. Thus, AtHMA3 likely plays a role in the detoxification of biological (Zn) and nonbiological (Cd, cobalt, and Pb) heavy metals by participating in their vacuolar sequestration, an original function for a P1B-2 ATPase in a multicellular eukaryote.

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