A yeast mutant lacking SHR3, a protein specifically required for correct targeting of plasma membrane amino acid permeases, was used to study the targeting of plant transporters and as a tool to isolate new SHR3-independent amino acid transporters. For this purpose, an shr3 mutant was transformed with an Arabidopsis cDNA library. Thirty-four clones were capable of growth under selective conditions, but none showed homology with SHR3. However, genes encoding eight different amino acid transporters belonging to three different transporter families were isolated. Five of these are members of the general amino acid permease (AAP) gene family, one is a member of the NTR family, encoding an oligopeptide transporter, and two belong to a new class of transporter genes. A functional analysis of the latter two genes revealed that they encode specific proline transporters (ProT) that are distantly related to the AAP gene family. ProT1 was found to be expressed in all organs, but highest levels were found in roots, stems, and flowers. Expression in flowers was highest in the floral stalk phloem that enters the carpels and was downregulated after fertilization, indicating a specific role in supplying the ovules with proline. ProT2 transcripts were found ubiquitously throughout the plant, but expression was strongly induced under water or salt stress, implying that ProT2 plays an important role in nitrogen distribution during water stress, unlike members of the AAP gene family whose expression was repressed under the same conditions. These results corroborate the general finding that under water stress, amino acid export is impaired whereas proline export is increased.
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