Sugars are essential sources of energy and carbon and also function as key signalling molecules in plants. Sugar transport proteins (STP) are proton-coupled symporters responsible for uptake of glucose from the apoplast into plant cells. They are integral to organ development in symplastically isolated tissues such as seed, pollen and fruit. Additionally, STPs play a vital role in plant responses to stressors such as dehydration and prevalent fungal infections like rust and mildew. Here we present a structure of Arabidopsis thaliana STP10 in the inward-open conformation at 2.6 Å resolution and a structure of the outward-occluded conformation at improved 1.8 Å resolution, both with glucose and protons bound. The two structures describe key states in the STP transport cycle. Together with molecular dynamics simulations that establish protonation states and biochemical analysis, they pinpoint structural elements, conserved in all STPs, that clarify the basis of proton-to-glucose coupling. These results advance our understanding of monosaccharide uptake, which is essential for plant organ development, and set the stage for bioengineering strategies in crops.
© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.