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Summary

Long distance transport of amino acids is mediated by several families of differentially expressed amino acid transporters. The two genes AAP1 and AAP2 encode broad specificity H+-amino acid co-transporters and are expressed to high levels in siliques of Arabidopsis, indicating a potential role in supplying the seeds with organic nitrogen. The expression of both genes is developmentally controlled and is strongly induced in siliques at heart stage of embryogenesis, shortly before induction of storage protein genes. Histochemical analysis of transgenic plants expressing promoter-GUS fusions shows that the genes have non-overlapping expression patterns in siliques. AAP1 is expressed in the endosperm and the cotyledons whereas AAP2 is expressed in the vascular strands of siliques and in funiculi. The endosperm expression of AAP1 during early stages of seed development indicates that the endosperm serves as a transient storage tissue for organic nitrogen. Amino acids are transported in both xylem and phloem but during seed filling are imported only via the phloem. AAP2, which is expressed in the phloem of stems and in the veins supplying seeds, may function in uptake of amino acids assimilated in the green silique tissue, in the retrieval of amino acids leaking passively out of the phloem and in xylem-to-phloem transfer along the path. The promoters provide excellent tools to study developmental, hormonal and metabolic control of nitrogen nutrition during development and may help to manipulate the timing and composition of amino acid import into seeds.