The sink-specific plastidic phosphate transporter PHT4;2 influences starch accumulation and leaf size in Arabidopsis

Plant Physiol. 2011 Dec;157(4):1765-77. doi: 10.1104/pp.111.181925. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Nonphotosynthetic plastids are important sites for the biosynthesis of starch, fatty acids, and amino acids. The uptake and subsequent use of cytosolic ATP to fuel these and other anabolic processes would lead to the accumulation of inorganic phosphate (Pi) if not balanced by a Pi export activity. However, the identity of the transporter(s) responsible for Pi export is unclear. The plastid-localized Pi transporter PHT4;2 of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) is expressed in multiple sink organs but is nearly restricted to roots during vegetative growth. We identified and used pht4;2 null mutants to confirm that PHT4;2 contributes to Pi transport in isolated root plastids. Starch accumulation was limited in pht4;2 roots, which is consistent with the inhibition of starch synthesis by excess Pi as a result of a defect in Pi export. Reduced starch accumulation in leaves and altered expression patterns for starch synthesis genes and other plastid transporter genes suggest metabolic adaptation to the defect in roots. Moreover, pht4;2 rosettes, but not roots, were significantly larger than those of the wild type, with 40% greater leaf area and twice the biomass when plants were grown with a short (8-h) photoperiod. Increased cell proliferation accounted for the larger leaf size and biomass, as no changes were detected in mature cell size, specific leaf area, or relative photosynthetic electron transport activity. These data suggest novel signaling between roots and leaves that contributes to the regulation of leaf size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Transport
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Flowers / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Phosphate Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Phosphate Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Leaves / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plastids / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Rabbits
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Seedlings / growth & development
  • Seedlings / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Signal Transduction
  • Starch / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Phosphate Transport Proteins
  • Phosphates
  • Carbon
  • Starch

Associated data

  • GENBANK/NM101419
  • GENBANK/NM103492
  • GENBANK/NM104305
  • GENBANK/NM104862
  • GENBANK/NM106679
  • GENBANK/NM120081
  • GENBANK/NM121927
  • GENBANK/NM124205
  • GENBANK/NM124861
  • GENBANK/NM129361
  • GENBANK/NM129362