Aquaporins are ubiquitous channel proteins that facilitate the transport of water across cell membranes. Aquaporins show a typically high isoform multiplicity in plants, with 35 homologs in Arabidopsis. The integrated function of plant aquaporins and the function of each individual isoform remain poorly understood. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight analyses suggested that Plasma Membrane Intrinsic Protein2;2 (PIP2;2) is one of the abundantly expressed aquaporin isoforms in Arabidopsis root plasma membranes. Two independent Arabidopsis knockout mutants of PIP2;2 were isolated using a PCR-based strategy from a library of plant lines mutagenized by the insertion of Agrobacterium tumefaciens T-DNA. Expression in transgenic Arabidopsis of a PIP2;2 promoter–β-glucuronidase gene fusion indicated that PIP2;2 is expressed predominantly in roots, with a strong expression in the cortex, endodermis, and stele. The hydraulic conductivity of root cortex cells, as measured with a cell pressure probe, was reduced by 25 to 30% in the two allelic PIP2;2 mutants compared with the wild type. In addition, free exudation measurements revealed a 14% decrease, with respect to wild-type values, in the osmotic hydraulic conductivity of roots excised from the two PIP2;2 mutants. Together, our data provide evidence for the contribution of a single aquaporin gene to root water uptake and identify PIP2;2 as an aquaporin specialized in osmotic fluid transport. PIP2;2 has a close homolog, PIP2;3, showing 96.8% amino acid identity. The phenotype of PIP2;2 mutants demonstrates that, despite their high homology and isoform multiplicity, plant aquaporins have evolved with nonredundant functions.
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