Ammonium transporters (AMTs) are crucial for the high affinity primary uptake and translocation of ammonium in plants. In the model legume Medicago truncatula, the genomic set of AMT-type ammonium transporters comprises eight members. Only four genes were abundantly expressed in young seedlings, both in roots and shoots. While the expression of all AMTs in the shoot was not affected by the nitrogen availability, the dominating MtAMT1;1 gene was repressed by nitrogen in roots, despite that cellular nitrogen concentrations were far above deficiency levels. A contrasting de-repression by nitrogen was observed for MtAMT1;4 and MtAMT2;1, which were both expressed at intermediate level. Weak expression was found for MtAMT1;2 and MtAMT2;3, while the other AMTs were not detected in young seedlings. When expressed from their endogenous promoters, translational fusion proteins of MtAMT1;1 and MtAMT2;1 with green fluorescent protein were co-localized in the plasma membrane of rhizodermal cells, but also detected in cortical root layers. Both transporter proteins similarly functionally complemented a yeast strain that is deficient in high affinity ammonium transport, both at acidic and neutral pH. The uptake into yeast mediated by these transporters saturated with Km AMT1;1 = 89 µM and Km AMT2;1 = 123 µM, respectively. When expressed in oocytes, MtAMT1;1 mediated much larger 15N-ammonium uptake than MtAMT2;1, but NH4 + currents were only recorded for MtAMT1;1. These currents saturated with a voltage-dependent Km = 90 µM at −80 mV. The cellular localization and regulation of the AMTs suggests that MtAMT1;1 encodes the major high affinity ammonium transporter gene in low nitrogen grown young M. truncatula roots and despite the similar localization and substrate affinity, MtAMT2;1 appears functionally distinct and more important at higher nitrogen supply.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 28, 2014
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