AtCAT6, a sink-tissue-localized transporter for essential amino acids in Arabidopsis


*(fax +1 314 587 1521; e-mail or fax +49 9131 852 8751; e-mail

†Present address: Molecular Plant Physiology, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Staudtstrasse 5, 91058 Erlangen, Germany.


Amino acids represent the major form of reduced nitrogen that is transported in plants. Amino acid transporters in plants often show tissue-specific expression patterns and are used by plants to transport these metabolites from source to sink during development and under changing environmental conditions. We identified one amino acid transporter, AtCAT6, which is expressed in sink tissues such as lateral root primordia, flowers and seeds. Additionally AtCAT6 was induced during infestation of roots by the plant-parasitic root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR revealed nematode inducibility throughout the duration of nematode infestation and in nematode-induced feeding sites. Promoter analyses confirmed expression in endogenous sink tissues and nematode-induced feeding sites. In Xenopus oocytes, AtCAT6 mediated electrogenic transport of proteinogenic as well as non-proteinogenic amino acids with moderate affinity. AtCAT6 transported large, neutral and cationic amino acids in preference to other amino acids. Knockout mutants of this transporter failed to grow on medium containing l-glutamine as the sole nitrogen source. Our data suggest that AtCAT6 plays a role in supplying amino acids to sink tissues of plants and nematode-induced feeding structures.