, Volume 67, Issue 15, pp 2511-2532

Potassium and sodium transport in non-animal cells: the Trk/Ktr/HKT transporter family

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Bacterial Trk and Ktr, fungal Trk and plant HKT form a family of membrane transporters permeable to K+ and/or Na+ and characterized by a common structure probably derived from an ancestral K+ channel subunit. This transporter family, specific of non-animal cells, displays a large diversity in terms of ionic permeability, affinity and energetic coupling (H+–K+ or Na+–K+ symport, K+ or Na+ uniport), which might reflect a high need for adaptation in organisms living in fluctuating or dilute environments. Trk/Ktr/HKT transporters are involved in diverse functions, from K+ or Na+ uptake to membrane potential control, adaptation to osmotic or salt stress, or Na+ recirculation from shoots to roots in plants. Structural analyses of bacterial Ktr point to multimeric structures physically interacting with regulatory subunits. Elucidation of Trk/Ktr/HKT protein structures along with characterization of mutated transporters could highlight functional and evolutionary relationships between ion channels and transporters displaying channel-like features.