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Conserved functions of MATE transporters and their potential to enhance plant tolerance to aluminium toxicity

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Almost half of the world’s arable land has acidic pH. Aluminum salts present in acid soils dissociate to release Al3+ ions in the soil solution that inhibit root growth causing severe loss in crop yields. Aluminium toxicity accounts for the second highest loss in plant productivity after drought. Aluminium in high doses causes damage to the plant cell wall, cytoskeleton and DNA. One of the ways by which plants alleviate aluminium toxicity is by the exudation of citrate from the roots that chelates the free Al3+ and prevents its entry into the plant. In several crop plants Multidrug and Toxic Compound Extrusion (MATE) transporters regulate citrate exudation from the roots. The MATE proteins are ubiquitously present in bacteria, archaea, fungi, animals and plants. The origin and evolution of these membrane transporters in plants is not well known. Here, using protein sequence information we identify MATE transporters in major groups of land plants and their algal ancestors. Our study indicates that the MATE family members expanded in number and functionally diverse among the land plants. We also identify motifs present across the streptophyte clade and a conserved aspartate residue that might regulate citrate exudation. This study can provide leads to engineer MATE transporters to confer enhanced tolerance in acid soils.

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Multidrug and toxic compound extrusion






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DK acknowledge the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt. of India Ph.D. Fellowship. S.D would like to thank MHRD-STARS grant (STARS/APR2019/BS/245/FS), Govt. of India for funding. Authors acknowledge Sanchali Nanda for initial works in this project and IISER Bhopal for infrastructure and facilities. The authors sincerely apologize omission of any reference which might have been excluded owing to lack of space.

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Correspondence to Sourav Datta.

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The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

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Kar, D., Bhagavatula, L., Dutta, A. et al. Conserved functions of MATE transporters and their potential to enhance plant tolerance to aluminium toxicity. J. Plant Biochem. Biotechnol. 30, 1008–1015 (2021).

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