Date: April 29, 2002
Creator: Geurinot, Mary Lou & Eide, David
Description: Metal ions are critical nutrients, yet overaccumulation of these same metals can also be toxic. To maintain appropriate intracellular levels, cells require specific metal uptake systems that are subject to precise homeostatic regulation. The long-range goal of our research is to define the molecular mechanism(s) and regulation of metal ion uptake in eukaryotic cells. Integrating genetic, molecular biological and biochemical approaches, we have examined these processes in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Both are proven model systems for studying fundamental cellular processes. Our work has focused on the ZIP family of metal transporters which we identified; this family has representatives in bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. IRT, one of the founding members of the ZIP family, is an essential cation transporter that is expressed in the epidermal cells of iron deficient plant roots and is responsible for uptake of iron from the soil. We now know that there are 15 ZIP genes in the Arabidopsis and the similarities among their encoded gene products. The ZIP family members display different substrate specificities for metals and different tissue distributions in Arabidopsis. Moreover, the family members respond differentially to metal deficiencies. For example, IRT1, ZIP6 and ZIP9 mRNA are ...
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