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PLoS One. 2019 Jan 18;14(1):e0211156. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211156. eCollection 2019.

Cloning and expression of selected ABC transporters from the Arabidopsis thaliana ABCG family in Pichia pastoris.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Center for Advanced Imaging, Heinrich Heine University, Duüsseldorf, Germany.
Protein Production Facility, Heinrich Heine University, Duüsseldorf, Germany.


Phytohormones play a major role in plant growth and development. They are in most cases not synthesized in their target location and hence need to be transported to the site of action, by for instance ATP-binding cassette transporters. Within the ATP-binding cassette transporter family, Pleiotropic Drug Resistance transporters are known to be involved in phytohormone transport. Interestingly, PDRs are only present in plants and fungi. In contrast to fungi, there are few biochemical studies of plant PDRs and one major reason is that suitable overexpression systems have not been identified. In this study, we evaluate the expression system Pichia pastoris for heterologous overexpression of PDR genes of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We successfully cloned and expressed the potential phytohormone transporters PDR2 and PDR8 in P. pastoris. Sucrose gradient centrifugation confirmed that the overexpressed proteins were correctly targeted to the plasma membrane of P. pastoris and initial functional studies demonstrated ATPase activity for WBC1. However, difficulties in cloning and heterologous overexpression might be particular obstacles of the PDR family, since cloning and overexpression of White Brown Complex 1, a half-size transporter of the same ABCG subfamily with comparable domain organization, was more easily achieved. We present strategies and highlight critical factors to successfully clone plant PDR genes and heterologously expressed in P. pastoris.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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