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Plant Sci. 2011 Feb;180(2):196-203. doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2010.10.015. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Exploring multiple drug and herbicide resistance in plants--spotlight on transporter proteins.

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Biology Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


Multiple drug resistance (MDR) has been extensively studied in bacteria, yeast, and mammalian cells due to the great clinical significance of this problem. MDR is not well studied in plant systems, although plant genomes contain large numbers of genes encoding putative MDR transporters (MDRTs). Biochemical pathways in the chloroplast are the targets of many herbicides and antibiotics, yet very little data is available regarding mechanisms of drug transport across the chloroplast membrane. MDRTs typically have broad substrate specificities, and may transport essential compounds and metabolites in addition to toxins. Indeed, plant transporters belonging to MDR families have also been implicated in the transport of a wide variety of compounds including auxins, flavonoids, glutathione conjugates, metal chelators, herbicides and antibiotics, although definitive evidence that a single transporter is capable of moving both toxins and metabolites has not yet been provided. Current understanding of plant MDR can be expanded via the characterization of candidate genes, especially MDRTs predicted to localize to the chloroplast, and also via traditional forward genetic approaches. Novel plant MDRTs have the potential to become endogenous selectable markers, aid in phytoremediation strategies, and help us to understand how plants have evolved to cope with toxins in their environment.

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