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Plant Cell Environ. 2014 May;37(5):1192-201. doi: 10.1111/pce.12227. Epub 2013 Dec 8.

Phytochelatin-metal(loid) transport into vacuoles shows different substrate preferences in barley and Arabidopsis.

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POSTECH-UZH Cooperative Laboratory, Department of Integrative Bioscience and Biotechnology, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, 790-784, Korea.


Cadmium (Cd) and arsenic (As) are toxic to all living organisms, including plants and humans. In plants, Cd and As are detoxified by phytochelatins (PCs) and metal(loid)-chelating peptides and by sequestering PC-metal(loid) complexes in vacuoles. Consistent differences have been observed between As and Cd detoxification. Whereas chelation of Cd by PCs is largely sufficient to detoxify Cd, As-PC complexes must be sequestered into vacuoles to be fully detoxified. It is not clear whether this difference in detoxification pathways is ubiquitous among plants or varies across species. Here, we have conducted a PC transport study using vacuoles isolated from Arabidopsis and barley. Arabidopsis vacuoles accumulated low levels of PC2 -Cd, and vesicles from yeast cells expressing either AtABCC1 or AtABCC2 exhibited negligible PC2 -Cd transport activity compared with PC2 -As. In contrast, barley vacuoles readily accumulated comparable levels of PC2 -Cd and PC2 -As. PC transport in barley vacuoles was inhibited by vanadate, but not by ammonium, suggesting the involvement of ABC-type transporters. Interestingly, barley vacuoles exhibited enhanced PC2 transport activity when essential metal ions, such as Zn(II), Cu(II) and Mn(II), were added to the transport assay, suggesting that PCs might contribute to the homeostasis of essential metals and detoxification of non-essential toxic metal(loid)s.


ABC transporter; heavy metal; phytochelatin transporter; trace metals; vacuole

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