, Volume 249, Issue 2, pp 417–429 | Cite as

The interaction between AtMT2b and AtVDAC3 affects the mitochondrial membrane potential and reactive oxygen species generation under NaCl stress in Arabidopsis

  • Min Zhang
  • Shenkui Liu
  • Tetsuo Takano
  • Xinxin ZhangEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

AtMT2b interacts with AtVDAC3 in mitochondria in Arabidopsis. The overexpression of the AtMT2b and AtVDAC3 T-DNA insertion mutant confers tolerance to NaCl stress in Arabidopsis. Both AtMT2b and AtVDAC3 are involved in the regulation of the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) under NaCl stress.

Metallothioneins (MTs) are small, cysteine rich, metal-binding proteins that perform multiple functions, such as heavy metal detoxification and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging. MTs have been reported to be involved in mitochondrial function in mammals. However, whether a direct relationship exists between MTs and mitochondrial proteins remains unclear. In the present study, we used yeast two-hybrid and bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays to demonstrate that AtMT2b, which is a type 2 MT in Arabidopsis, interacts with the outer mitochondrial membrane voltage-dependent anion channel AtVDAC3. AtMT2b bound AtVDAC3, leading to its co-localization in mitochondria. AtMT2b transgenic seedlings exhibited increased tolerance to salt stress, and the atvdac3 mutant showed a similar phenotype. The mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) was maintained, and ROS generation was reduced following AtMT2b overexpression and AtVDAC3 knockout under NaCl stress. Both AtMT2b and AtVDAC3 were shown to be involved in MMP regulation and ROS production under NaCl stress but showed opposite effects. We conclude that AtMT2b might negatively interact with AtVDAC3 in mitochondria, and both proteins are involved in the regulation of MMP and ROS under NaCl stress.


Gene expression Metallothionein Mitochondria Protein interaction Salt tolerance Voltage-dependent anion channel 



Bimolecular fluorescence complementation


Mitochondrial membrane potential




Outer mitochondrial membrane


Reactive oxygen species


Voltage-dependent anion channels


Yeast two-hybrid



This work was supported by funding from the Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (PCSIRT) (IRT_17R99) to Shenkui Liu and a grant from the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2572014DA06) to Xinxin Zhang. We thank professor Lixin Li for providing the BY2 cells.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

425_2018_3010_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3404 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Saline-alkali Vegetation Ecology Restoration (SAVER), Ministry of Education, Alkali Soil Natural Environmental Science Center (ASNESC)Northeast Forestry UniversityHarbinChina
  2. 2.School of MedicineHe UniversityShenyangChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Subtropical SilvicultureZhejiang A & F UniversityHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Asian Natural Environment Science Center (ANESC)The University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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