Transport of cytokinins mediated by purine transporters of the PUP family expressed in phloem, hydathodes, and pollen of Arabidopsis


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Nucleobases and derivatives like cytokinins and caffeine are translocated in the plant vascular system. Transport studies in cultured Arabidopsis cells indicate that adenine and cytokinin are transported by a common H+-coupled high-affinity purine transport system. Transport properties are similar to that of Arabidopsis purine transporters AtPUP1 and 2. When expressed in yeast, AtPUP1 and 2 mediate energy-dependent high-affinity adenine uptake, whereas AtPUP3 activity was not detectable. Similar to the results from cell cultures, purine permeases (PUP) mediated uptake of adenine can be inhibited by cytokinins, indicating that cytokinins are transport substrates. Direct measurements demonstrate that AtPUP1 is capable of mediating uptake of radiolabeled trans-zeatin. Cytokinin uptake is strongly inhibited by adenine and isopentenyladenine but is poorly inhibited by 6-chloropurine. A number of physiological cytokinins including trans- and cis-zeatin are also efficient competitors for AtPUP2-mediated adenine uptake, suggesting that AtPUP2 is also able to mediate cytokinin transport. Furthermore, AtPUP1 mediates transport of caffeine and ribosylated purine derivatives in yeast. Promoter–reporter gene studies point towards AtPUP1 expression in the epithem of hydathodes and the stigma surface of siliques, suggesting a role in retrieval of cytokinins from xylem sap to prevent loss during guttation. The AtPUP2 promoter drives GUS reporter gene activity in the phloem of Arabidopsis leaves, indicating a role in long-distance transport of adenine and cytokinins. Promoter activity of AtPUP3 was only found in pollen. In summary, three closely related PUPs are differentially expressed in Arabidopsis and at least two PUPs have properties similar to the adenine and cytokinin transport system identified in Arabidopsis cell cultures.