Arabidopsis ammonium transporters, AtAMT1;1 and AtAMT1;2, have different biochemical properties and functional roles

M.C. Shelden, B. Dong, [No Value] De Bruxelles G.l., B. Travaskis, James Whelan, P.R. Ryan, S.M. Howitt, M.K. Udvardi

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65 Citations (Scopus)


We have compared the biochemical properties of two different Arabidopsis ammonium transporters, AtAMT1;1 and AtAMT1;2, expressed in yeast, with the biophysical properties of ammonium transport in planta. Expression of the AtAMT1;1 gene in Arabidopsis roots increased approximately four-fold in response to nitrogen deprivation. This coincided with a similar increase in high-affinity ammonium uptake by these plants. The biophysical characteristics of this high-affinity system (K-m for ammonium and methylammonium of 8 muM and 31 muM, respectively) matched those of AtAMT1;1 expressed in yeast (K-m for methylammonium of 32 muM and K-i for ammonium of 1-10 muM). The same transport system was present, although less active, in nitrate-fed roots. Ammonium-fed plants exhibited the lowest rates of ammonium uptake and appeared to deploy a different transporter (K-m for ammonium of 46 muM). Expression of AtAMT1;2 in roots was insensitive to changes in nitrogen nutrition. In contrast to AtAMT1;1, AtAMT1;2 expressed in yeast exhibited biphasic kinetics for methylammonium uptake: in addition to a high-affinity phase with a K-m of 36 muM, a low-affinity phase with a K-m for methylammonium of 3.0 mM was measured. Despite the presence of a putative chloroplast transit peptide in AtAMT1;2, the protein was not imported into chloroplasts in vitro. The electrophysiological data for roots, together with the biochemical properties of AtAMT1;1 and Northern blot analysis indicate a pre-eminent role for AtAMT1;1 in ammonium uptake across the plasma membrane of nitrate-fed and nitrogen-deprived root cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-160
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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