A new family of K+ transporters from Arabidopsis that are conserved across phyla

FEBS Lett. 1997 Sep 29;415(2):206-11. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(97)01125-3.


Transport of K+ in higher plants, as in bacteria and fungi, is mediated by two broad classes of transport proteins that operate in the millimolar and micromolar K+ concentration ranges. A search of the Expressed Sequence Tag database using amino acid consensus sequences for the K+ transporters HAK1 from Schwanniomyces and Kup of Escherichia coli yielded two homologous sequences for Arabidopsis. Cloning and sequencing of these genes gave single open reading frames for the putative transporters, AtKT1 and AtKT2, with predicted molecular weights of 79 and 88 kDa. The predicted gene products showed a high degree of homology at the amino acid level (56% identity) and exhibited significant hydrophobic stretches in their N-terminal halves, consistent with 12 membrane-spanning, alpha-helical domains. Database searches using AtKT1 and AtKT2 identified 10 additional sequences in Arabidopsis as well as additional homologous sequences in the plant species Oryza and Allium, the bacterium Lactococcus lactis, and in Homo sapiens. Expression of AtKT2 rescued growth on low millimolar [K+] in Saccharomyces cerevisiae carrying deletions for the genes encoding the K+ transporters TRK1 and TRK2. Rescue was associated with a 2-fold stimulation of Rb+ uptake and was sensitive to competition with external Na+ but not to extracellular pH, indicating that the gene encodes a low-affinity K+ transporter. These and additional results suggest that AtKT1 and AtKT2 belong to a superfamily of cation transporters that have been conserved through evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / chemistry*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins*
  • Biological Transport
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cation Transport Proteins*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Rubidium / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • KT1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • KT2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Plant Proteins
  • Rubidium
  • Potassium

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF012656
  • GENBANK/AF012657
  • GENBANK/AF012658
  • GENBANK/AF012659
  • GENBANK/AF012660