Halophytic NHXs confer salt tolerance by altering cytosolic and vacuolar K+ and Na+ in Arabidopsis root cell

Xiaohui Liu, Shenguan Cai, Gang Wang, Feifei Wang, Fabao Dong, Michelle Mak, Paul Holford, Jing Ji, Anya Salih, Meixue Zhou, Sergey Shabala, Zhong Hua Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


While the role of the vacuolar NHX Na+/H+ exchangers in plant salt tolerance has been demonstrated on numerous occasions, their control over cytosolic ionic relations has never been functionally analysed in the context of subcellular Na+ and K+ homeostasis. In this work, PutNHX1 and SeNHX1 were cloned from halophytes Puccinellia tenuiflora and Salicornia europaea and transiently expressed in Arabidopsis wild type Col-0 and the nhx1 mutant. Phylogentic analysis, topological prediction, analysis of evolutionary conservation, the topology structure and analysis of hydrophobic or polar regions of PutNHX1 and SeNHX1 indicated that they are unique tonoplast Na+/H+ antiporters with characteristics for salt tolerance. As a part of the functional assessment, cytosolic and vacuolar Na+ and K+ in different root tissues and ion fluxes from root mature zone of Col-0, nhx1 and their transgenic lines were measured. Transgenic lines sequestered large quantity of Na+ into root cell vacuoles and also promoted high cytosolic and vacuolar K+ accumulation. Expression of PutNHX1 and SeNHX1 led to significant transient root Na+ uptake in the four transgenic lines upon recovery from salt treatment. In contrast, the nhx1 mutant maintained a prolonged Na+ efflux and the nhx1:PutNHX1 and nhx1:SeNHX1 lines started to actively pump Na+ out of the cell. Overall, our findings suggest that PutNHX1 and SeNHX1 improve Na+ sequestration in the vacuole and K+ retention in the cytosol and vacuole of root cells of Arabidopsis, and that they interact with other regulatory mechanisms to provide a highly orchestrated regulation of ionic relations among intracellular cell compartments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-351
Number of pages19
JournalPlant Growth Regulation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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