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Multifunctionality of plant ABC transporters – more than just detoxifiers

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The ABC-transporter superfamily is one of the largest protein families, and members can be found in bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. The first reports on plant ABC transporters showed that they are implicated in detoxification processes. The recent completion of the genomic sequencing of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. [Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (2000) Nature 408:796–815] showed that Arabidopsis contains more than 100 ABC-type proteins; 53 genes code for so-called full-size transporters, which are large proteins of about 150 kDa consisting of two hydrophobic and two hydrophilic domains. The large number of genes in the MDR/MRP and PDR5-like sub-clusters and the strong sequence homology found in many cases suggest functional redundancy. One reason for the high number of genes can be attributed to the duplication of large segments of Arabidopsis chromosomes. Recent results indicate that the function of this protein family is not restricted to detoxification processes. Plant ABC transporters have been demonstrated to participate in chlorophyll biosynthesis, formation of Fe/S clusters, stomatal movement, and probably ion fluxes; hence they may play a central role in plant growth and developmental processes.

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Martinoia, E., Klein, M., Geisler, M. et al. Multifunctionality of plant ABC transporters – more than just detoxifiers. Planta 214, 345–355 (2002).

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