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Plant Signal Behav. 2009 Aug;4(8):718-26. Epub 2009 Aug 9.

Regulation by salt of vacuolar H+-ATPase and H+-pyrophosphatase activities and Na+/H+ exchange.

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Centro de Investigação e de Tecnologias Agro-Ambientais e Biológicas, Portugal.


Over the last decades several efforts have been carried out to determine the mechanisms of salt homeostasis in plants and, more recently, to identify genes implicated in salt tolerance, with some plants being successfully genetically engineered to improve resistance to salt. It is well established that the efficient exclusion of Na(+) excess from the cytoplasm and vacuolar Na(+) accumulation are the most important steps towards the maintenance of ion homeostasis inside the cell. Therefore, the vacuole of plant cells plays a pivotal role in the storage of salt. After the identification of the vacuolar Na(+)/H(+) antiporter Nhx1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the first plant Na(+)/H(+) antiporter, AtNHX1, was isolated from Arabidopsis and its overexpression resulted in plants exhibiting increased salt tolerance. Also, the identification of the plasma membrane Na(+)/H(+) exchanger SOS1 and how it is regulated by a protein kinase SOS2 and a calcium binding protein SOS3 were great achievements in the understanding of plant salt resistance. Both tonoplast and plasma membrane antiporters exclude Na+ from the cytosol driven by the proton-motive force generated by the plasma membrane H(+)-ATPase and by the vacuolar membrane H(+)-ATPase and H(+)-pyrophosphatase and it has been shown that the activity of these proteins responds to salinity. In this review we focus on the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation by salt of tonoplast proton pumps and Na(+)/H(+) exchangers and on the signalling pathways involved in salt sensing.

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