Plant aquaporin selectivity: where transport assays, computer simulations and physiology meet
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- Ludewig, U. & Dynowski, M. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2009) 66: 3161. doi:10.1007/s00018-009-0075-6
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Plants contain a large number of aquaporins with different selectivity. These channels generally conduct water, but some additionally conduct NH3, CO2 and/or H2O2. The experimental evidence and molecular basis for the transport of a given solute, the validation with molecular dynamics simulations and the physiological impact of the selectivity are reviewed here. The aromatic/arginine (ar/R) constriction is most important for solute selection, but the exact pore requirements for efficient conduction of small solutes remain difficult to predict. Yeast growth assays are valuable for screening substrate selectivity and are explicitly shown for hydrogen peroxide and methylamine, a transport analog of ammonia. Independent assays need to address the relevance of different substrates for each channel in its physiological context. This is emphasized by the fact that several plant NIP channels, which conduct several solutes, are specifically involved in the transport of metalloids, such as silicic acid, arsenite, or boric acid in planta.