Molecular and functional characterization of the magnesium transporter gene ZmMGT12 in maize

Gene. 2018 Jul 30;665:167-173. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2018.04.068. Epub 2018 Apr 25.


Magnesium (Mg) is an essential mineral element for normal plant growth and development, and the CorA/MRS2/MGT-type Mg transporters play a significant role in maintaining Mg homeostasis in plants. In total, 12 maize CorA-like Mg2+ transporters have been identified, but none of them had been functionally characterized. Accordingly, we cloned and functionally characterized ZmMGT12 from the maize CorA-like gene family. ZmMGT12 exhibited the structure typical of Mg2+ transporters, i.e., two conserved TM domains and a GMN tripeptide motif. ZmMGT12, Arabidopsis AtMGT6, and rice OsMRS2-6 shared high protein sequence identity and thus clustered in the same phylogenetic branch, suggesting that they could be homologs. A functional complementation assay in the Salmonella typhimurium MM281 mutant indicated that ZmMGT12 possessed Mg2+ transport ability. ZmMGT12 was expressed in roots, stems, and leaves, with the highest expression in leaves. Moreover, ZmMGT12 expression was induced by light and exhibited a circadian expression pattern. In addition, the expression level of ZmMGT12 in leaf tissue was related to chlorophyll synthesis. Overexpression of ZmMGT12 in Arabidopsis caused no phenotypic change in transgenic plants, including in fresh shoot weight, chlorophyll content, shoot Mg2+ content, and chloroplast Mg2+ content. Together, these results suggest that ZmMGT12 is a Mg2+ transporter and may play a role in Mg transport into chloroplasts.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; CorA; Magnesium transporter; Maize; Overexpression; ZmMGT12.

MeSH terms

  • Cation Transport Proteins* / biosynthesis
  • Cation Transport Proteins* / genetics
  • Chlorophyll / biosynthesis
  • Chlorophyll / genetics
  • Chloroplast Proteins* / biosynthesis
  • Chloroplast Proteins* / genetics
  • Chloroplasts* / genetics
  • Chloroplasts* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Ion Transport / physiology
  • Magnesium / metabolism*
  • Protein Domains
  • Zea mays* / genetics
  • Zea mays* / metabolism


  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Chloroplast Proteins
  • Chlorophyll
  • Magnesium