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Sci Rep. 2016 Apr 22;6:24563. doi: 10.1038/srep24563.

AtSWEET4, a hexose facilitator, mediates sugar transport to axial sinks and affects plant development.

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Key Laboratory of South China Agricultural Plant Molecular Analysis and Genetic Improvement, and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China.
College of Life Science, Yangtze University, Jingzhou 434025, China.


Plants transport photoassimilates from source organs to sink tissues through the phloem translocation pathway. In the transport phloem, sugars that escape from the sieve tubes are released into the apoplasmic space between the sieve element/companion cell complex (SE/CC) and phloem parenchyma cells (PPCs) during the process of long-distance transport. The competition for sugar acquisition between SE/CC and adjoining PPCs is mediated by plasma membrane translocators. YFP-tagged AtSWEET4 protein is localized in the plasma membrane, and PromoterAtSWEET4-GUS analysis showed that AtSWEET4 is expressed in the stele of roots and veins of leaves and flowers. Overexpression of AtSWEET4 in Arabidopsis increases plant size and accumulates more glucose and fructose. By contrast, knock-down of AtSWEET4 by RNA-interference leads to small plant size, reduction in glucose and fructose contents, chlorosis in the leaf vein network, and reduction in chlorophyll content in leaves. Yeast assays demonstrated that AtSWEET4 is able to complement both fructose and glucose transport deficiency. Transgenic plants of AtSWEET4 overexpression exhibit higher freezing tolerance and support more growth of bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola NPS3121. We conclude that AtSWEET4 plays an important role in mediating sugar transport in axial tissues during plant growth and development.

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