Enhancing the upward translocation of heavy metals such as Zn from root to shoot through genetic engineering has potential for biofortification and phytoremediation. This study examined the contribution of the heavy metal-transporting ATPase, AtHMA4, to the shoot ionomic profile of soil-grown plants, and investigated the importance of the C-terminal domain in the functioning of this transporter.

Principal Findings

The Arabidopsis hma2 hma4 mutant has a stunted phenotype and a distinctive ionomic profile, with low shoot levels of Zn, Cd, Co, K and Rb, and high shoot Cu. Expression of AtHMA4(AtHMA4-FL) under the CaMV-35S promoter partially rescued the stunted phenotype of hma2 hma4; rosette diameter returned to wild-type levels in the majority of lines and bolts were also produced, although the average bolt height was not restored completely. AtHMA4-FLexpression rescued Co, K, Rb and Cu to wild-type levels, and partially returned Cd and Zn levels (83% and 28% of wild type respectively). In contrast, expression of AtHMA4-trunc(without the C-terminal region) in hma2 hma4 only partially restored the rosette diameter in two of five lines and bolt production was not rescued. There was no significant effect on the shoot ionomic profile, apart from Cd, which was increased to 41% of wild-type levels. When theAtHMA4 C-terminal domain (AtHMA4-C-term) was expressed in hma2 hma4 it had no marked effect. When expressed in yeast, AtHMA4-C-term and AtHMA4-trunc conferred greater Cd and Zn tolerance than AtHMA4-FL.


The ionome of the hma2 hma4 mutant differs markedly from wt plants. The functional relevance of domains of AtHMA4 in planta can be explored by complementing this mutant. AtHMA4-FL is more effective in restoring shoot metal accumulation in this mutant than a C-terminally truncated version of the pump, indicating that the C-terminal domain is important in the functioning of AtHMA4 in planta.


This is the publisher pdf of Mills RF, Valdes B, Duke M, Peaston KA, Lahner B, et al. (2010) Functional Significance of AtHMA4 C-Terminal Domain In Planta. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13388. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013388 and is available at: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013388.

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