© 2016 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved. A crucial prerequisite for plant growth and survival is the maintenance of potassium uptake, especially when high sodium surrounds the root zone. The Arabidopsis HIGH-AFFINITY K+ TRANSPORTER1 (HKT1), and its homologs in other salt-sensitive dicots, contributes to salinity tolerance by removing Na+ from the transpiration stream. However, TsHKT1;2, one of three HKT1 copies in Thellungiella salsuginea, a halophytic Arabidopsis relative, acts as a K+transporter in the presence of Na+ in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Amino-acid sequence comparisons indicated differences between TsHKT1;2 and most other published HKT1 sequences with respect to an Asp residue (D207) in the second pore-loop domain. Two additional T. salsuginea and most other HKT1 sequences contain Asn (N) in this position. Wild-type TsHKT1;2 and altered AtHKT1 (AtHKT1N-D) complemented K+-uptake deficiency of yeast cells. Mutanthkt1-1 plants complemented with both AtHKT1N-D and TsHKT1;2 showed higher tolerance to salt stress than lines complemented by the wild-type AtHKT1. Electrophysiological analysis in Xenopus laevis oocytes confirmed the functional properties of these transporters and the differential selectivity for Na+ and K+based on the N/D variance in the pore region. This change also dictated inward-rectification for Na+ transport. Thus, the introduction of Asp, replacing Asn, in HKT1-type transporters established altered cation selectivity and uptake dynamics. We describe one way, based on a single change in a crucial protein that enabled some crucifer species to acquire improved salt tolerance, which over evolutionary time may have resulted in further changes that ultimately facilitated colonization of saline habitats.
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Ali, A., Raddatz, N., Aman, R., Kim, S., Park, H., Jan, M., Baek, D., Khan, I., Oh, D., Lee, S., Bressan, R., Lee, K., Maggio, A., Pardo, J., Bohnert, H., & Yun, D. (2016). A single amino-acid substitution in the sodium transporter HKT1 associated with plant salt tolerance. Plant Physiology, 171 (3), 2112-2126. https://doi.org/10.1104/pp.16.00569