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J Biol Chem. 2010 Dec 24;285(52):40416-26. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.155408. Epub 2010 Oct 11.

Tonoplast-localized Abc2 transporter mediates phytochelatin accumulation in vacuoles and confers cadmium tolerance.

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Division of Biological Sciences, Cell and Developmental Biology Section, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Phytochelatins mediate tolerance to heavy metals in plants and some fungi by sequestering phytochelatin-metal complexes into vacuoles. To date, only Schizosaccharomyces pombe Hmt1 has been described as a phytochelatin transporter and attempts to identify orthologous phytochelatin transporters in plants and other organisms have failed. Furthermore, recent data indicate that the hmt1 mutant accumulates significant phytochelatin levels in vacuoles, suggesting that unidentified phytochelatin transporters exist in fungi. Here, we show that deletion of all vacuolar ABC transporters abolishes phytochelatin accumulation in S. pombe vacuoles and abrogates (35)S-PC(2) uptake into S. pombe microsomal vesicles. Systematic analysis of the entire S. pombe ABC transporter family identified Abc2 as a full-size ABC transporter (ABCC-type) that mediates phytochelatin transport into vacuoles. The S. pombe abc1 abc2 abc3 abc4 hmt1 quintuple and abc2 hmt1 double mutant show no detectable phytochelatins in vacuoles. Abc2 expression restores phytochelatin accumulation into vacuoles and suppresses the cadmium sensitivity of the abc quintuple mutant. A novel, unexpected, function of Hmt1 in GS-conjugate transport is also shown. In contrast to Hmt1, Abc2 orthologs are widely distributed among kingdoms and are proposed as the long-sought vacuolar phytochelatin transporters in plants and other organisms.

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