Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Group leader, IGF, Berlin, Germany (1990 - 1992)
  • Young Investigator. Assist. Professor, IGF, Berlin, Germany (1992 - 1996)
  • Full Professor, Chair, Plant Physiology, University of Tübingen, Germany (1996 - 2003)
  • Director, Center for Plant Molecular Biology, ZMBP, Tübingen, Germany (1997 - 2001)
  • Professor by Courtesy, Stanford University (2003 - 2009)
  • Staff Member, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford (2003 - Present)
  • Vice President, Feedstocks, Joint Bioenergy Institute, Emeryville (2007 - 2009)
  • Director, Carnegie Institution for Science, Dep. Plant Biology (2007 - 2016)
  • Full Professor, Stanford University (2009 - 2016)
  • Professor (by courtesy), Stanford University (2016 - Present)

Honors & Awards

  • Young investigator Award, German Federal Ministry for Science and Technology (1992)
  • Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Preis, German Research Foundation (DFG) (1998)
  • European Science Award, Körber Foundation (2001)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2003)
  • Laurence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology Research, American Society of Plant Biology (2012)
  • Member, German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina (2015)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, ASPB (1996 - Present)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2003 - Present)
  • Member, San Francisco Microscopical Society (2011 - Present)
  • Member, American Society of Cell Biology (2014 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Habilitation, Free University Berlin, Plant Physiology (1994)
  • Dr. rer. nat., University Köln, Biology (1987)
  • Diploma, University Köln, Germany, Biology (1983)


  • Hirner A., Koch W., Tegeder M. & Frommer W.B.. "United States Patent 2005235376 Method for producing a transgenic plant having modified transport of substances. (2002)"
  • Wolf Frommer, Sylvie Lalonde. "Japan Patent 5148498 Phosphate sensor. (2009)"
  • Okumoto S., Looger L.L. & Frommer W.B.. "United States Patent 7,777,016 Neurotransmitter Sensors and Methods of Using Same. (2008)"
  • Thijs Kaper, Michael Platten, Lavvrence Steinman, Wolf Frommer. "United States Patent 7,935,494 TRP/HlS exchange and KYNURENINE induced TRP transport. (2008)"
  • Wolf Frommer, Ida Large. "United States Patent 8,173,863 Sucrose biosensors and methods of using the same. (2009)"
  • Wolf Frommer, Loren L. Looger. "United States Patent 8,357,505 Environmentally stable sensors and methods of using the same. (2009)"
  • Wolf Frommer, Sakiko Okumoto, Loren Looger, Marcus Fehr. "United States Patent 8,530,633 Development of Sensitive FRET sensor and methods of using the seim. (2010)"
  • Wolf Frommer, Marcus Fehr, Sylvie Lalonde. "United States Patent European Patent Convention 1427856 Fusion Proteins Useful For Detecting analysis. (2004)"
  • Fischer W.N., Frommer W.B., Hirner B., Lalonde S., Okumoto S., Tegeder M., Ward J.M. & Weise A.. "Germany Patent P 00109218.8-2105 Modification of gene expression in transgenic plants. (2000)"
  • Deuschle K., Funck D., Hellmann H. & Frommer W.B.. "Germany Patent P 00116866.5-2105 Plant protein with pyrroline-5-carboxylat-dehydrogenase activity. (2000)"
  • Catoni E., Schwab R., Schumacher K. & Frommer W.B.. "Germany Patent P 100 36 671.6 Nucleic Acids, with the aid of which plants having an altered metabolite content can be produced. (2000)"
  • Ward J.M., Weise A., Barker L., Schulze W., Kühn C. & Frommer W.B.. "Germany Patent P 10050233.4-41 Gentechnisch veränderte Zuckerrübe. (2000)"
  • Schrader H., Elling L. & Frommer W.B.. "Germany Patent P 197 36 343.1-41 Methods for increasing the gene expression of saccharose synthase. (1997)"
  • Gillissen B., Bürkle L., André B. & Frommer W.B.. "Germany Patent P 199 072 09.4-4 Nucleic acids which code for nuclear base transporters. (1999)"
  • Rocha-Sosa M., Sonnewald U., Frommer W.B., Willmitzer L. & Stratmann M.. "Germany Patent P 38 43 627.2 Plant promoters specific for sink organ expression of genes. (1988)"
  • Frommer W.B., Riesmeier J.W.. "Germany Patent P 42 20 759.2 DNA sequences with oligosaccharide transporter, plasmids bacteria and plants containing a transporter as well as a process for the preparation and transformation of yeast strains for identification of the transporter.(1992)"
  • Wolf Frommer. "Germany Patent P 42 22 315.6 DNA sequences for an arabidopsis amino acid transporter, plasmids, bacteria, yeasts and plants containing a transporter and their use. (1992)"
  • Frommer W.B., Ninnemann O.. "Germany Patent P 43 37 597.9 DNA sequences for ammonium transporter, plasmids, bacteria, yeasts, plant cells and plants containing the transporter. (1993)"
  • Frommer W.B., Streber W., Kwart M., Ninnemann O. & Riesmeier J.W.. "Germany Patent P 43 43 527.0 Methods for identifying substances with a potential herbicidal or growth-regulating action by means of plant transporter proteins, the use of the transporter proteins, and substances with a herbicidal and growth-regulating action. (1993)"
  • Riesmeier J.W. & Frommer W.B.. "Germany Patent P 44 39 748.8 Process for modifying plant flowering behavior. (1994)"

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

The goal of the group is to carry out a comparative analysis of carbon and nitrogen transport and metabolism and its regulation using a fluxomics approach. FRET sensors are used to measure the effect of individual genes (in high throughput) on flux. Model organisms/systems to be compared are yeast cells, mammalian cell cultures and intact roots of Arabidopsis. The goal to to uncover regulatory networks controlling flux through the metabolic pathways in order to provide a solid basis for metabolic engineering. In parallel, high throughput approaches are used to analyze the physical interaction network of membrane proteins (including receptors and transporters) with the signaling networks. In addition phosphoproteomics is being used to determine the changes in phosphorylation patterns induced by chanegs in nutrient supply. These three major approaches are used to generate an advanced network of carbon and nitrogen signaling.

Graduate and Fellowship Programs

  • Biology (School of Humanities and Sciences) (Phd Program)

All Publications

  • Using Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Biosensors for Quantitative In Vivo Imaging. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) Yoshinari, A., Moe-Lange, J., Kleist, T. J., Cartwright, H. N., Quint, D. A., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B., Nakamura, M. 2021; 2200: 303–22


    Fluorescent biosensors are powerful tools for tracking analytes or cellular processes in live organisms and allowing visualization of the spatial and temporal dynamics of cellular regulators. Fluorescent protein (FP)-based biosensors are extensively employed due to their high selectivity and low invasiveness. A variety of FP-based biosensors have been engineered and applied in plant research to visualize dynamic changes in pH, redox state, concentration of molecules (ions, sugars, peptides, ATP, reactive oxygen species, and phytohormones), and activity of transporters. In this chapter, we briefly summarize reported uses of FP-based biosensors in planta and show simple methods to monitor the dynamics of intracellular Ca2+ in Arabidopsis thaliana using a ratiometric genetically encoded Ca2+ indicator, MatryoshCaMP6s.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/978-1-0716-0880-7_14

    View details for PubMedID 33175384

  • SWEET11 and 15 as key players in seed filling in rice NEW PHYTOLOGIST Yang, J., Luo, D., Yang, B., Frommer, W. B., Eom, J. 2018; 218 (2): 604–15


    Despite the relevance of seed-filling mechanisms for crop yield, we still have only a rudimentary understanding of the transport processes that supply the caryopsis with sugars. We hypothesized that SWEET sucrose transporters may play important roles in nutrient import pathways in the rice caryopsis. We used a combination of mRNA quantification, histochemical analyses, translational promoter-reporter fusions and analysis of knockout mutants created by genomic editing to evaluate the contribution of SWEET transporters to seed filling. In rice caryopses, SWEET11 and 15 had the highest mRNA levels and proteins localized to four key sites: all regions of the nucellus at early stages; the nucellar projection close to the dorsal vein; the nucellar epidermis that surrounds the endosperm; and the aleurone. ossweet11;15 double knockout lines accumulated starch in the pericarp, whereas caryopses did not contain a functional endosperm. Jointly, SWEET11 and 15 show all the hallmarks of being necessary for seed filling with sucrose efflux functions at the nucellar projection and a role in transfer across the nucellar epidermis/aleurone interface, delineating two major steps for apoplasmic seed filling, observations that are discussed in relation to observations made in rice and barley regarding the relative prevalence of these two potential import routes.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.15004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000428070100021

    View details for PubMedID 29393510

  • Impaired phloem loading in zmsweet13a,b,c sucrose transporter triple knock-out mutants in Zea mays NEW PHYTOLOGIST Bezrutczyk, M., Hartwig, T., Horschman, M., Char, S., Yang, J., Yang, B., Frommer, W. B., Sosso, D. 2018; 218 (2): 594–603


    Crop yield depends on efficient allocation of sucrose from leaves to seeds. In Arabidopsis, phloem loading is mediated by a combination of SWEET sucrose effluxers and subsequent uptake by SUT1/SUC2 sucrose/H+ symporters. ZmSUT1 is essential for carbon allocation in maize, but the relative contribution to apoplasmic phloem loading and retrieval of sucrose leaking from the translocation path is not known. Here we analysed the contribution of SWEETs to phloem loading in maize. We identified three leaf-expressed SWEET sucrose transporters as key components of apoplasmic phloem loading in Zea mays L. ZmSWEET13 paralogues (a, b, c) are among the most highly expressed genes in the leaf vasculature. Genome-edited triple knock-out mutants were severely stunted. Photosynthesis of mutants was impaired and leaves accumulated high levels of soluble sugars and starch. RNA-seq revealed profound transcriptional deregulation of genes associated with photosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Genome-wide association study (GWAS) analyses may indicate that variability in ZmSWEET13s correlates with agronomical traits, especifically flowering time and leaf angle. This work provides support for cooperation of three ZmSWEET13s with ZmSUT1 in phloem loading in Z. mays.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.15021

    View details for Web of Science ID 000428070100020

    View details for PubMedID 29451311

  • TAL effector driven induction of a SWEET gene confers susceptibility to bacterial blight of cotton NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Cox, K. L., Meng, F., Wilkins, K. E., Li, F., Wang, P., Booher, N. J., Carpenter, S. C., Chen, L., Zheng, H., Gao, X., Zheng, Y., Fei, Z., Yu, J. Z., Isakeit, T., Wheeler, T., Frommer, W. B., He, P., Bogdanove, A. J., Shan, L. 2017; 8


    Transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors from Xanthomonas citri subsp. malvacearum (Xcm) are essential for bacterial blight of cotton (BBC). Here, by combining transcriptome profiling with TAL effector-binding element (EBE) prediction, we show that GhSWEET10, encoding a functional sucrose transporter, is induced by Avrb6, a TAL effector determining Xcm pathogenicity. Activation of GhSWEET10 by designer TAL effectors (dTALEs) restores virulence of Xcm avrb6 deletion strains, whereas silencing of GhSWEET10 compromises cotton susceptibility to infections. A BBC-resistant line carrying an unknown recessive b6 gene bears the same EBE as the susceptible line, but Avrb6-mediated induction of GhSWEET10 is reduced, suggesting a unique mechanism underlying b6-mediated resistance. We show via an extensive survey of GhSWEET transcriptional responsiveness to different Xcm field isolates that additional GhSWEETs may also be involved in BBC. These findings advance our understanding of the disease and resistance in cotton and may facilitate the development cotton with improved resistance to BBC.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms15588

    View details for PubMedID 28537271

  • Mechanism of Substrate Translocation in an Alternating Access Transporter CELL Latorraca, N. R., Fastman, N. M., Venkatakrishnan, A. J., Frommer, W. B., Dror, R. O., Feng, L. 2017; 169 (1): 96-?


    Transporters shuttle molecules across cell membranes by alternating among distinct conformational states. Fundamental questions remain about how transporters transition between states and how such structural rearrangements regulate substrate translocation. Here, we capture the translocation process by crystallography and unguided molecular dynamics simulations, providing an atomic-level description of alternating access transport. Simulations of a SWEET-family transporter initiated from an outward-open, glucose-bound structure reported here spontaneously adopt occluded and inward-open conformations. Strikingly, these conformations match crystal structures, including our inward-open structure. Mutagenesis experiments further validate simulation predictions. Our results reveal that state transitions are driven by favorable interactions formed upon closure of extracellular and intracellular "gates" and by an unfavorable transmembrane helix configuration when both gates are closed. This mechanism leads to tight allosteric coupling between gates, preventing them from opening simultaneously. Interestingly, the substrate appears to take a "free ride" across the membrane without causing major structural rearrangements in the transporter.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2017.03.010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000397090000011

    View details for PubMedID 28340354

  • Molecular Characterization of LjSWEET3, a Sugar Transporter in Nodules of Lotus japonicus PLANT AND CELL PHYSIOLOGY Sugiyama, A., Saida, Y., Yoshimizu, M., Takanashi, K., Sosso, D., Frommer, W. B., Yazaki, K. 2017; 58 (2): 298-306

    View details for DOI 10.1093/pcp/pcw190

    View details for Web of Science ID 000397150900011

  • Ratiometric Matryoshka biosensors from a nested cassette of green- and orange-emitting fluorescent proteins. Nature communications Ast, C. n., Foret, J. n., Oltrogge, L. M., De Michele, R. n., Kleist, T. J., Ho, C. H., Frommer, W. B. 2017; 8 (1): 431


    Sensitivity, dynamic and detection range as well as exclusion of expression and instrumental artifacts are critical for the quantitation of data obtained with fluorescent protein (FP)-based biosensors in vivo. Current biosensors designs are, in general, unable to simultaneously meet all these criteria. Here, we describe a generalizable platform to create dual-FP biosensors with large dynamic ranges by employing a single FP-cassette, named GO-(Green-Orange) Matryoshka. The cassette nests a stable reference FP (large Stokes shift LSSmOrange) within a reporter FP (circularly permuted green FP). GO- Matryoshka yields green and orange fluorescence upon blue excitation. As proof of concept, we converted existing, single-emission biosensors into a series of ratiometric calcium sensors (MatryoshCaMP6s) and ammonium transport activity sensors (AmTryoshka1;3). We additionally identified the internal acid-base equilibrium as a key determinant of the GCaMP dynamic range. Matryoshka technology promises flexibility in the design of a wide spectrum of ratiometric biosensors and expanded in vivo applications.Single fluorescent protein biosensors are susceptible to expression and instrumental artifacts. Here Ast et al. describe a dual fluorescent protein design whereby a reference fluorescent protein is nested within a reporter fluorescent protein to control for such artifacts while preserving sensitivity and dynamic range.

    View details for PubMedID 28874729

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5585204

  • Phylogenetic evidence for a fusion of archaeal and bacterial SemiSWEETs to form eukaryotic SWEETs and identification of SWEET hexose transporters in the amphibian chytrid pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis FASEB JOURNAL Hu, Y., Sosso, D., Qu, X., Chen, L., Ma, L., Chermak, D., Zhang, D., Frommer, W. B. 2016; 30 (10): 3644-3654


    SWEETs represent a new class of sugar transporters first described in plants, animals, and humans and later in prokaryotes. Plant SWEETs play key roles in phloem loading, seed filling, and nectar secretion, whereas the role of archaeal, bacterial, and animal transporters remains elusive. Structural analyses show that eukaryotic SWEETs are composed of 2 triple-helix bundles (THBs) fused via an inversion linker helix, whereas prokaryotic SemiSWEETs contain only a single THB and require homodimerization to form transport pores. This study indicates that SWEETs retained sugar transport activity in all kingdoms of life, and that SemiSWEETs are likely their ancestral units. Fusion of oligomeric subunits into single polypeptides during evolution of eukaryotes is commonly found for transporters. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that THBs of eukaryotic SWEETs may not have evolved by tandem duplication of an open reading frame, but rather originated by fusion between an archaeal and a bacterial SemiSWEET, which potentially explains the asymmetry of eukaryotic SWEETs. Moreover, despite the ancient ancestry, SWEETs had not been identified in fungi or oomycetes. Here, we report the identification of SWEETs in oomycetes as well as SWEETs and a potential SemiSWEET in primitive fungi. BdSWEET1 and BdSWEET2 from Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a nonhyphal zoosporic fungus that causes global decline in amphibians, showed glucose and fructose transport activities.-Hu, Y.-B., Sosso, D., Qu, X.-Q., Chen, L.-Q., Ma, L., Chermak, D., Zhang, D.-C., Frommer, W. B. Phylogenetic evidence for a fusion of archaeal and bacterial SemiSWEETs to form eukaryotic SWEETs and identification of SWEET hexose transporters in the amphibian chytrid pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.

    View details for DOI 10.1096/fj.201600576R

    View details for Web of Science ID 000384329800031

    View details for PubMedID 27411857

  • MtSWEET11, a Nodule-Specific Sucrose Transporter of Medicago truncatula PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Kryvoruchko, I. S., Sinharoy, S., Torres-Jerez, I., Sosso, D., Pislariu, C. I., Guan, D., Murray, J., Benedito, V. A., Frommer, W. B., Udvardi, M. K. 2016; 171 (1): 554-565


    Optimization of nitrogen fixation by rhizobia in legumes is a key area of research for sustainable agriculture. Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) occurs in specialized organs called nodules and depends on a steady supply of carbon to both plant and bacterial cells. Here we report the functional characterization of a nodule-specific Suc transporter, MtSWEET11 from Medicago truncatula MtSWEET11 belongs to a clade of plant SWEET proteins that are capable of transporting Suc and play critical roles in pathogen susceptibility. When expressed in mammalian cells, MtSWEET11 transported sucrose (Suc) but not glucose (Glc). The MtSWEET11 gene was found to be expressed in infected root hair cells, and in the meristem, invasion zone, and vasculature of nodules. Expression of an MtSWEET11-GFP fusion protein in nodules resulted in green fluorescence associated with the plasma membrane of uninfected cells and infection thread and symbiosome membranes of infected cells. Two independent Tnt1-insertion sweet11 mutants were uncompromised in SNF Therefore, although MtSWEET11 appears to be involved in Suc distribution within nodules, it is not crucial for SNF, probably because other Suc transporters can fulfill its role(s).

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.15.01910

    View details for Web of Science ID 000375431500042

    View details for PubMedID 27021190

  • Free-Flow Electrophoresis of Plasma Membrane Vesicles Enriched by Two-Phase Partitioning Enhances the Quality of the Proteome from Arabidopsis Seedlings. Journal of proteome research De Michele, R., McFarlane, H. E., Parsons, H. T., Meents, M. J., Lao, J., González Fernández-Niño, S. M., Petzold, C. J., Frommer, W. B., Samuels, A. L., Heazlewood, J. L. 2016; 15 (3): 900-913


    The plant plasma membrane is the interface between the cell and its environment undertaking a range of important functions related to transport, signaling, cell wall biosynthesis, and secretion. Multiple proteomic studies have attempted to capture the diversity of proteins in the plasma membrane using biochemical fractionation techniques. In this study, two-phase partitioning was combined with free-flow electrophoresis to produce a population of highly purified plasma membrane vesicles that were subsequently characterized by tandem mass spectroscopy. This combined high-quality plasma membrane isolation technique produced a reproducible proteomic library of over 1000 proteins with an extended dynamic range including plasma membrane-associated proteins. The approach enabled the detection of a number of putative plasma membrane proteins not previously identified by other studies, including peripheral membrane proteins. Utilizing multiple data sources, we developed a PM-confidence score to provide a value indicating association to the plasma membrane. This study highlights over 700 proteins that, while seemingly abundant at the plasma membrane, are mostly unstudied. To validate this data set, we selected 14 candidates and transiently localized 13 to the plasma membrane using a fluorescent tag. Given the importance of the plasma membrane, this data set provides a valuable tool to further investigate important proteins. The mass spectrometry data are available via ProteomeXchange, identifier PXD001795.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00876

    View details for PubMedID 26781341

  • 50 years of Arabidopsis research: highlights and future directions NEW PHYTOLOGIST Provart, N. J., Alonso, J., Assmann, S. M., Bergmann, D., Brady, S. M., Brkljacic, J., Browse, J., Chapple, C., Colot, V., Cutler, S., Dangl, J., Ehrhardt, D., Friesner, J. D., Frommer, W. B., Grotewold, E., Meyerowitz, E., Nemhauser, J., Nordborg, M., Pikaard, C., Shanklin, J., Somerville, C., Stitt, M., Torii, K. U., Waese, J., Wagner, D., McCourt, P. 2016; 209 (3): 921-944


    922 I. 922 II. 922 III. 925 IV. 925 V. 926 VI. 927 VII. 928 VIII. 929 IX. 930 X. 931 XI. 932 XII. 933 XIII. Natural variation and genome-wide association studies 934 XIV. 934 XV. 935 XVI. 936 XVII. 937 937 References 937 SUMMARY: The year 2014 marked the 25(th) International Conference on Arabidopsis Research. In the 50 yr since the first International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, held in 1965 in Göttingen, Germany, > 54 000 papers that mention Arabidopsis thaliana in the title, abstract or keywords have been published. We present herein a citational network analysis of these papers, and touch on some of the important discoveries in plant biology that have been made in this powerful model system, and highlight how these discoveries have then had an impact in crop species. We also look to the future, highlighting some outstanding questions that can be readily addressed in Arabidopsis. Topics that are discussed include Arabidopsis reverse genetic resources, stock centers, databases and online tools, cell biology, development, hormones, plant immunity, signaling in response to abiotic stress, transporters, biosynthesis of cells walls and macromolecules such as starch and lipids, epigenetics and epigenomics, genome-wide association studies and natural variation, gene regulatory networks, modeling and systems biology, and synthetic biology.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.13687

    View details for Web of Science ID 000373378000009

    View details for PubMedID 26465351

  • Evolution of Transporters: The Relationship of SWEETs, PQ-loop, and PnuC Transporters. Trends in biochemical sciences Feng, L., Frommer, W. B. 2016; 41 (2): 118-119

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tibs.2015.11.014

    View details for PubMedID 26749089

  • FRET sensor-based quantification of intracellular trehalose in mammalian cells BIOSCIENCE BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOCHEMISTRY Kikuta, S., Hou, B., Sato, R., Frommer, W. B., Kikawada, T. 2016; 80 (1): 162-165
  • Seed filling in domesticated maize and rice depends on SWEET-mediated hexose transport. Nature genetics Sosso, D., Luo, D., Li, Q., Sasse, J., Yang, J., Gendrot, G., Suzuki, M., Koch, K. E., McCarty, D. R., Chourey, P. S., Rogowsky, P. M., Ross-Ibarra, J., Yang, B., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 47 (12): 1489-1493


    Carbohydrate import into seeds directly determines seed size and must have been increased through domestication. However, evidence of the domestication of sugar translocation and the identities of seed-filling transporters have been elusive. Maize ZmSWEET4c, as opposed to its sucrose-transporting homologs, mediates transepithelial hexose transport across the basal endosperm transfer layer (BETL), the entry point of nutrients into the seed, and shows signatures indicative of selection during domestication. Mutants of both maize ZmSWEET4c and its rice ortholog OsSWEET4 are defective in seed filling, indicating that a lack of hexose transport at the BETL impairs further transfer of sugars imported from the maternal phloem. In both maize and rice, SWEET4 was likely recruited during domestication to enhance sugar import into the endosperm.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ng.3422

    View details for PubMedID 26523777

  • Deciphering durable resistance one R gene at a time. Nature genetics White, F. F., Frommer, W. 2015; 47 (12): 1376-7


    Characterizations of durable resistance genes in crop plants are coming to the fore. A new study characterizing the wheat gene Lr67 shows that how a plant manages sugar transport affects the ability of a broad group of fungal pathogens to colonize their host.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ng.3456

    View details for PubMedID 26620111

  • Seed filling in domesticated maize and rice depends on SWEET-mediated hexose transport. Nature genetics Sosso, D., Luo, D., Li, Q., Sasse, J., Yang, J., Gendrot, G., Suzuki, M., Koch, K. E., McCarty, D. R., Chourey, P. S., Rogowsky, P. M., Ross-Ibarra, J., Yang, B., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 47 (12): 1489-1493

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ng.3422

    View details for PubMedID 26523777

  • Structure of a eukaryotic SWEET transporter in a homotrimeric complex. Nature Tao, Y., Cheung, L. S., Li, S., Eom, J., Chen, L., Xu, Y., Perry, K., Frommer, W. B., Feng, L. 2015; 527 (7577): 259-263


    Eukaryotes rely on efficient distribution of energy and carbon skeletons between organs in the form of sugars. Glucose in animals and sucrose in plants serve as the dominant distribution forms. Cellular sugar uptake and release require vesicular and/or plasma membrane transport proteins. Humans and plants use proteins from three superfamilies for sugar translocation: the major facilitator superfamily (MFS), the sodium solute symporter family (SSF; only in the animal kingdom), and SWEETs. SWEETs carry mono- and disaccharides across vacuolar or plasma membranes. Plant SWEETs play key roles in sugar translocation between compartments, cells, and organs, notably in nectar secretion, phloem loading for long distance translocation, pollen nutrition, and seed filling. Plant SWEETs cause pathogen susceptibility possibly by sugar leakage from infected cells. The vacuolar Arabidopsis thaliana AtSWEET2 sequesters sugars in root vacuoles; loss-of-function mutants show increased susceptibility to Pythium infection. Here we show that its orthologue, the vacuolar glucose transporter OsSWEET2b from rice (Oryza sativa), consists of an asymmetrical pair of triple-helix bundles, connected by an inversion linker transmembrane helix (TM4) to create the translocation pathway. Structural and biochemical analyses show OsSWEET2b in an apparent inward (cytosolic) open state forming homomeric trimers. TM4 tightly interacts with the first triple-helix bundle within a protomer and mediates key contacts among protomers. Structure-guided mutagenesis of the close paralogue SWEET1 from Arabidopsis identified key residues in substrate translocation and protomer crosstalk. Insights into the structure-function relationship of SWEETs are valuable for understanding the transport mechanism of eukaryotic SWEETs and may be useful for engineering sugar flux.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature15391

    View details for PubMedID 26479032

  • Structure of a eukaryotic SWEET transporter in a homotrimeric complex NATURE Tao, Y., Cheung, L. S., Li, S., Eom, J., Chen, L., Xu, Y., Perry, K., Frommer, W. B., Feng, L. 2015; 527 (7577): 259-?


    Eukaryotes rely on efficient distribution of energy and carbon skeletons between organs in the form of sugars. Glucose in animals and sucrose in plants serve as the dominant distribution forms. Cellular sugar uptake and release require vesicular and/or plasma membrane transport proteins. Humans and plants use proteins from three superfamilies for sugar translocation: the major facilitator superfamily (MFS), the sodium solute symporter family (SSF; only in the animal kingdom), and SWEETs. SWEETs carry mono- and disaccharides across vacuolar or plasma membranes. Plant SWEETs play key roles in sugar translocation between compartments, cells, and organs, notably in nectar secretion, phloem loading for long distance translocation, pollen nutrition, and seed filling. Plant SWEETs cause pathogen susceptibility possibly by sugar leakage from infected cells. The vacuolar Arabidopsis thaliana AtSWEET2 sequesters sugars in root vacuoles; loss-of-function mutants show increased susceptibility to Pythium infection. Here we show that its orthologue, the vacuolar glucose transporter OsSWEET2b from rice (Oryza sativa), consists of an asymmetrical pair of triple-helix bundles, connected by an inversion linker transmembrane helix (TM4) to create the translocation pathway. Structural and biochemical analyses show OsSWEET2b in an apparent inward (cytosolic) open state forming homomeric trimers. TM4 tightly interacts with the first triple-helix bundle within a protomer and mediates key contacts among protomers. Structure-guided mutagenesis of the close paralogue SWEET1 from Arabidopsis identified key residues in substrate translocation and protomer crosstalk. Insights into the structure-function relationship of SWEETs are valuable for understanding the transport mechanism of eukaryotic SWEETs and may be useful for engineering sugar flux.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature15391

    View details for Web of Science ID 000364396700050

    View details for PubMedID 26479032

  • The Arabidopsis vacuolar sugar transporter SWEET2 limits carbon sequestration from roots and restricts Pythium infection PLANT JOURNAL Chen, H., Huh, J., Yu, Y., Ho, L., Chen, L., Tholl, D., Frommer, W. B., Guo, W. 2015; 83 (6): 1046-1058


    Plant roots secrete a significant portion of their assimilated carbon into the rhizosphere. The putative sugar transporter SWEET2 is highly expressed in Arabidopsis roots. Expression patterns of SWEET2-β-glucuronidase fusions confirmed that SWEET2 accumulates highly in root cells and thus may contribute to sugar secretion, specifically from epidermal cells of the root apex. SWEET2-green fluorescent protein fusions localized to the tonoplast, which engulfs the major sugar storage compartment. Functional analysis of SWEET2 activity in yeast showed low uptake activity for the glucose analog 2-deoxyglucose, consistent with a role in the transport of glucose across the tonoplast. Loss-of-function sweet2 mutants showed reduced tolerance to excess glucose, lower glucose accumulation in leaves, and 15-25% higher glucose-derived carbon efflux from roots, suggesting that SWEET2 has a role in preventing the loss of sugar from root tissue. SWEET2 root expression was induced more than 10-fold during Pythium infection. Importantly, sweet2 mutants were more susceptible to the oomycete, showing impaired growth after infection. We propose that root-expressed vacuolar SWEET2 modulates sugar secretion, possibly by reducing the availability of glucose sequestered in the vacuole, thereby limiting carbon loss to the rhizosphere. Moreover, the reduced availability of sugar in the rhizosphere due to SWEET2 activity contributes to resistance to Pythium.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/tpj.12948

    View details for Web of Science ID 000361008700009

    View details for PubMedID 26234706

  • Structure and function of SemiSWEET and SWEET sugar transporters TRENDS IN BIOCHEMICAL SCIENCES Feng, L., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 40 (8): 480-486


    SemiSWEETs and SWEETs have emerged as unique sugar transporters. First discovered in plants with the help of fluorescent biosensors, homologs exist in all kingdoms of life. Bacterial and plant homologs transport hexoses and sucrose, whereas animal SWEETs transport glucose. Prokaryotic SemiSWEETs are small and comprise a parallel homodimer of an approximately 100 amino acid-long triple helix bundle (THB). Duplicated THBs are fused to create eukaryotic SWEETs in a parallel orientation via an inversion linker helix, producing a similar configuration to that of SemiSWEET dimers. Structures of four SemiSWEETs have been resolved in three states: open outside, occluded, and open inside, indicating alternating access. As we discuss here, these atomic structures provide a basis for exploring the evolution of structure-function relations in this new class of transporters.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tibs.2015.05.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358805800008

  • Structure and function of SemiSWEET and SWEET sugar transporters. Trends in biochemical sciences Feng, L., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 40 (8): 480-6


    SemiSWEETs and SWEETs have emerged as unique sugar transporters. First discovered in plants with the help of fluorescent biosensors, homologs exist in all kingdoms of life. Bacterial and plant homologs transport hexoses and sucrose, whereas animal SWEETs transport glucose. Prokaryotic SemiSWEETs are small and comprise a parallel homodimer of an approximately 100 amino acid-long triple helix bundle (THB). Duplicated THBs are fused to create eukaryotic SWEETs in a parallel orientation via an inversion linker helix, producing a similar configuration to that of SemiSWEET dimers. Structures of four SemiSWEETs have been resolved in three states: open outside, occluded, and open inside, indicating alternating access. As we discuss here, these atomic structures provide a basis for exploring the evolution of structure-function relations in this new class of transporters.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tibs.2015.05.005

    View details for PubMedID 26071195

  • SWEETs, transporters for intracellular and intercellular sugar translocation CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY Eom, J., Chen, L., Sosso, D., Julius, B. T., Lin, I. W., Qu, X., Braun, D. M., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 25: 53-62


    Three families of transporters have been identified as key players in intercellular transport of sugars: MSTs (monosaccharide transporters), SUTs (sucrose transporters) and SWEETs (hexose and sucrose transporters). MSTs and SUTs fall into the major facilitator superfamily; SWEETs constitute a structurally different class of transporters with only seven transmembrane spanning domains. The predicted topology of SWEETs is supported by crystal structures of bacterial homologs (SemiSWEETs). On average, angiosperm genomes contain ∼20 paralogs, most of which serve distinct physiological roles. In Arabidopsis, AtSWEET8 and 13 feed the pollen; SWEET11 and 12 provide sucrose to the SUTs for phloem loading; AtSWEET11, 12 and 15 have distinct roles in seed filling; AtSWEET16 and 17 are vacuolar hexose transporters; and SWEET9 is essential for nectar secretion. The remaining family members await characterization, and could play roles in the gametophyte as well as other important roles in sugar transport in the plant. In rice and cassava, and possibly other systems, sucrose transporting SWEETs play central roles in pathogen resistance. Notably, the human genome also contains a glucose transporting isoform. Further analysis promises new insights into mechanism and regulation of assimilate allocation and a new potential for increasing crop yield.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pbi.2015.04.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000359889900009

    View details for PubMedID 25988582

  • Gene targeting by the TAL effector PthXo2 reveals cryptic resistance gene for bacterial blight of rice PLANT JOURNAL Zhou, J., Peng, Z., Long, J., Sosso, D., Liu, B., Eom, J., Huang, S., Liu, S., Vera Cruz, C., Frommer, W. B., White, F. F., Yang, B. 2015; 82 (4): 632-643


    Bacterial blight of rice is caused by the γ-proteobacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, which utilizes a group of type III TAL (transcription activator-like) effectors to induce host gene expression and condition host susceptibility. Five SWEET genes are functionally redundant to support bacterial disease, but only two were experimentally proven targets of natural TAL effectors. Here, we report the identification of the sucrose transporter gene OsSWEET13 as the disease-susceptibility gene for PthXo2 and the existence of cryptic recessive resistance to PthXo2-dependent X. oryzae pv. oryzae due to promoter variations of OsSWEET13 in japonica rice. PthXo2-containing strains induce OsSWEET13 in indica rice IR24 due to the presence of an unpredicted and undescribed effector binding site not present in the alleles in japonica rice Nipponbare and Kitaake. The specificity of effector-associated gene induction and disease susceptibility is attributable to a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which is also found in a polymorphic allele of OsSWEET13 known as the recessive resistance gene xa25 from the rice cultivar Minghui 63. The mutation of OsSWEET13 with CRISPR/Cas9 technology further corroborates the requirement of OsSWEET13 expression for the state of PthXo2-dependent disease susceptibility to X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Gene profiling of a collection of 104 strains revealed OsSWEET13 induction by 42 isolates of X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Heterologous expression of OsSWEET13 in Nicotiana benthamiana leaf cells elevates sucrose concentrations in the apoplasm. The results corroborate a model whereby X. oryzae pv. oryzae enhances the release of sucrose from host cells in order to exploit the host resources.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/tpj.12838

    View details for Web of Science ID 000354288500008

    View details for PubMedID 25824104

  • Identification of rice cornichon as a possible cargo receptor for the Golgi-localized sodium transporter OsHKT1;3. Journal of experimental botany Rosas-Santiago, P., Lagunas-Gómez, D., Barkla, B. J., Vera-Estrella, R., Lalonde, S., Jones, A., Frommer, W. B., Zimmermannova, O., Sychrová, H., Pantoja, O. 2015; 66 (9): 2733-2748


    Membrane proteins are synthesized and folded in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and continue their path to their site of residence along the secretory pathway. The COPII system has been identified as a key player for selecting and directing the fate of membrane and secretory cargo proteins. Selection of cargo proteins within the COPII vesicles is achieved by cargo receptors. The cornichon cargo receptor belongs to a conserved protein family found in eukaryotes that has been demonstrated to participate in the selection of integral membrane proteins as cargo for their correct targeting. Here it is demonstrated at the cellular level that rice cornichon OsCNIH1 interacts with OsHKT1;3 and, in yeast cells, enables the expression of the sodium transporter to the Golgi apparatus. Physical and functional HKT-cornichon interactions are confirmed by the mating-based split ubiquitin system, bimolecular fluorescence complementation, and Xenopus oocyte and yeast expression systems. The interaction between the two proteins occurs in the ER of plant cells and their co-expression in oocytes leads to the sequestration of the transporter in the ER. In the yeast cornichon mutant erv14, OsHKT1;3 is mistargeted, preventing the toxic effects of sodium transport in the cell observed in wild-type cells or in the erv14 mutant that co-expressed OsHKT1;3 with either OsCNIH1 or Erv14p. Identification and characterization of rice cornichon as a possible cargo receptor opens up the opportunity to improve our knowledge on membrane protein targeting in plant cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jxb/erv069

    View details for PubMedID 25750424

  • A cascade of sequentially expressed sucrose transporters in the seed coat and endosperm provides nutrition for the Arabidopsis embryo. Plant cell Chen, L., Lin, I. W., Qu, X., Sosso, D., McFarlane, H. E., Londoño, A., Samuels, A. L., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 27 (3): 607-619


    Developing plant embryos depend on nutrition from maternal tissues via the seed coat and endosperm, but the mechanisms that supply nutrients to plant embryos have remained elusive. Sucrose, the major transport form of carbohydrate in plants, is delivered via the phloem to the maternal seed coat and then secreted from the seed coat to feed the embryo. Here, we show that seed filling in Arabidopsis thaliana requires the three sucrose transporters SWEET11, 12, and 15. SWEET11, 12, and 15 exhibit specific spatiotemporal expression patterns in developing seeds, but only a sweet11;12;15 triple mutant showed severe seed defects, which include retarded embryo development, reduced seed weight, and reduced starch and lipid content, causing a "wrinkled" seed phenotype. In sweet11;12;15 triple mutants, starch accumulated in the seed coat but not the embryo, implicating SWEET-mediated sucrose efflux in the transfer of sugars from seed coat to embryo. This cascade of sequentially expressed SWEETs provides the feeding pathway for the plant embryo, an important feature for yield potential.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.114.134585

    View details for PubMedID 25794936

  • Transport of Sugars ANNUAL REVIEW OF BIOCHEMISTRY, VOL 84 Chen, L., Cheung, L. S., Feng, L., Tanner, W., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 84: 865-894
  • Single-fluorophore membrane transport activity sensors with dual-emission read-out. eLife Ast, C., De Michele, R., Kumke, M. U., Frommer, W. B. 2015; 4


    We recently described a series of genetically encoded, single-fluorophore-based sensors, termed AmTrac and MepTrac, which monitor membrane transporter activity in vivo (De Michele et al., 2013). However, being intensiometric, AmTrac and Meptrac are limited in their use for quantitative studies. Here, we characterized the photophysical properties (steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy as well as anisotropy decay analysis) of different AmTrac sensors with diverging fluorescence properties in order to generate improved, ratiometric sensors. By replacing key amino acid residues in AmTrac we constructed a set of dual-emission AmTrac sensors named deAmTracs. deAmTracs show opposing changes of blue and green emission with almost doubled emission ratio upon ammonium addition. The response ratio of the deAmTracs correlated with transport activity in mutants with altered capacity. Our results suggest that partial disruption of distance-dependent excited-state proton transfer is important for the successful generation of single-fluorophore-based dual-emission sensors.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.07113

    View details for PubMedID 26090909

  • FRET sensor-based quantification of intracellular trehalose in mammalian cells. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry Kikuta, S., Hou, B., Sato, R., Frommer, W. B., Kikawada, T. 2015; 80 (1): 162-165


    Trehalose acts as a stress protectant and an autophagy inducer in mammalian cells. The molecular mechanisms of action remain obscure because intracellular trehalose at micromolar level is difficult to quantitate. Here, we show a novel trehalose monitoring technology based on FRET. FLIPsuc90μ∆1Venus sensor expressed in mammalian cells enables to quickly and non-destructively detect an infinitesimal amount of intracellular trehalose.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/09168451.2015.1069699

    View details for PubMedID 26214383

  • Structures of bacterial homologues of SWEET transporters in two distinct conformations NATURE Xu, Y., Tao, Y., Cheung, L. S., Fan, C., Chen, L., Xu, S., Perry, K., Frommer, W. B., Feng, L. 2014; 515 (7527): 448-?
  • Xanthomonas axonopodis Virulence Is Promoted by a Transcription Activator-Like Effector Mediated Induction of a SWEET Sugar Transporter in Cassava MOLECULAR PLANT-MICROBE INTERACTIONS Cohn, M., Bart, R. S., Shybut, M., Dahlbeck, D., Gomez, M., Morbitzer, R., Hou, B., Frommer, W. B., Lahaye, T., Staskawicz, B. J. 2014; 27 (11): 1186-1198
  • Border Control-A Membrane-Linked Interactome of Arabidopsis SCIENCE Jones, A. M., Xuan, Y., Xu, M., Wang, R., Ho, C., Lalonde, S., You, C. H., Sardi, M. I., Parsa, S. A., Smith-Valle, E., Su, T., Frazer, K. A., Pilot, G., Pratelli, R., Grossmann, G., Acharya, B. R., Hu, H., Engineer, C., Villiers, F., Ju, C., Takeda, K., Su, Z., Dong, Q., Assmann, S. M., Chen, J., Kwak, J. M., Schroeder, J. I., Albert, R., Rhee, S. Y., Frommer, W. B. 2014; 344 (6185): 711-716


    Cellular membranes act as signaling platforms and control solute transport. Membrane receptors, transporters, and enzymes communicate with intracellular processes through protein-protein interactions. Using a split-ubiquitin yeast two-hybrid screen that covers a test-space of 6.4 × 10(6) pairs, we identified 12,102 membrane/signaling protein interactions from Arabidopsis. Besides confirmation of expected interactions such as heterotrimeric G protein subunit interactions and aquaporin oligomerization, >99% of the interactions were previously unknown. Interactions were confirmed at a rate of 32% in orthogonal in planta split-green flourescent protein interaction assays, which was statistically indistinguishable from the confirmation rate for known interactions collected from literature (38%). Regulatory associations in membrane protein trafficking, turnover, and phosphorylation include regulation of potassium channel activity through abscisic acid signaling, transporter activity by a WNK kinase, and a brassinolide receptor kinase by trafficking-related proteins. These examples underscore the utility of the membrane/signaling protein interaction network for gene discovery and hypothesis generation in plants and other organisms.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1251358

    View details for Web of Science ID 000335912900032

    View details for PubMedID 24833385

  • Nectar secretion requires sucrose phosphate synthases and the sugar transporter SWEET9. Nature Lin, I. W., Sosso, D., Chen, L., Gase, K., Kim, S., Kessler, D., Klinkenberg, P. M., Gorder, M. K., Hou, B., Qu, X., Carter, C. J., Baldwin, I. T., Frommer, W. B. 2014; 508 (7497): 546-549


    Angiosperms developed floral nectaries that reward pollinating insects. Although nectar function and composition have been characterized, the mechanism of nectar secretion has remained unclear. Here we identify SWEET9 as a nectary-specific sugar transporter in three eudicot species: Arabidopsis thaliana, Brassica rapa (extrastaminal nectaries) and Nicotiana attenuata (gynoecial nectaries). We show that SWEET9 is essential for nectar production and can function as an efflux transporter. We also show that sucrose phosphate synthase genes, encoding key enzymes for sucrose biosynthesis, are highly expressed in nectaries and that their expression is also essential for nectar secretion. Together these data are consistent with a model in which sucrose is synthesized in the nectary parenchyma and subsequently secreted into the extracellular space via SWEET9, where sucrose is hydrolysed by an apoplasmic invertase to produce a mixture of sucrose, glucose and fructose. The recruitment of SWEET9 for sucrose export may have been a key innovation, and could have coincided with the evolution of core eudicots and contributed to the evolution of nectar secretion to reward pollinators.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature13082

    View details for PubMedID 24670640

  • Fluorescent sensors for activity and regulation of the nitrate transceptor CHL1/NRT1.1 and oligopeptide transporters ELIFE Ho, C., Frommer, W. B. 2014; 3


    To monitor nitrate and peptide transport activity in vivo, we converted the dual-affinity nitrate transceptor CHL1/NRT1.1/NPF6.3 and four related oligopeptide transporters PTR1, 2, 4, and 5 into fluorescence activity sensors (NiTrac1, PepTrac). Substrate addition to yeast expressing transporter fusions with yellow fluorescent protein and mCerulean triggered substrate-dependent donor quenching or resonance energy transfer. Fluorescence changes were nitrate/peptide-specific, respectively. Like CHL1, NiTrac1 had biphasic kinetics. Mutation of T101A eliminated high-affinity transport and blocked the fluorescence response to low nitrate. NiTrac was used for characterizing side chains considered important for substrate interaction, proton coupling, and regulation. We observed a striking correlation between transport activity and sensor output. Coexpression of NiTrac with known calcineurin-like proteins (CBL1, 9; CIPK23) and candidates identified in an interactome screen (CBL1, KT2, WNKinase 8) blocked NiTrac1 responses, demonstrating the suitability for in vivo analysis of activity and regulation. The new technology is applicable in plant and medical research. DOI:

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.01917

    View details for Web of Science ID 000332628800001

    View details for PubMedID 24623305

  • Mitochondrial biosensors. international journal of biochemistry & cell biology De Michele, R., Carimi, F., Frommer, W. B. 2014; 48: 39-44


    Biosensors offer an innovative tool for measuring the dynamics of a wide range of metabolites in living organisms. Biosensors are genetically encoded, and thus can be specifically targeted to specific compartments of organelles by fusion to proteins or targeting sequences. Mitochondria are central to eukaryotic cell metabolism and present a complex structure with multiple compartments. Over the past decade, genetically encoded sensors for molecules involved in energy production, reactive oxygen species and secondary messengers have helped to unravel key aspects of mitochondrial physiology. To date, sensors for ATP, NADH, pH, hydrogen peroxide, superoxide anion, redox state, cAMP, calcium and zinc have been used in the matrix, intermembrane space and in the outer membrane region of mitochondria of animal and plant cells. This review summarizes the different types of sensors employed in mitochondria and their main limits and advantages, and it provides an outlook for the future application of biosensor technology in studying mitochondrial biology.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.biocel.2013.12.014

    View details for PubMedID 24397954

  • Lateral organ boundaries 1 is a disease susceptibility gene for citrus bacterial canker disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Hu, Y., Zhang, J., Jia, H., Sosso, D., Li, T., Frommer, W. B., Yang, B., White, F. F., Wang, N., Jones, J. B. 2014; 111 (4): E521-9


    Citrus bacterial canker (CBC) disease occurs worldwide and incurs considerable costs both from control measures and yield losses. Bacteria that cause CBC require one of six known type III transcription activator-like (TAL) effector genes for the characteristic pustule formation at the site of infection. Here, we show that Xanthomonas citri subspecies citri strain Xcc306, with the type III TAL effector gene pthA4 or with the distinct yet biologically equivalent gene pthAw from strain XccA(w), induces two host genes, CsLOB1 and CsSWEET1, in a TAL effector-dependent manner. CsLOB1 is a member of the Lateral Organ Boundaries (LOB) gene family of transcription factors, and CsSWEET1 is a homolog of the SWEET sugar transporter and rice disease susceptibility gene. Both TAL effectors drive expression of CsLOB1 and CsSWEET1 promoter reporter gene fusions when coexpressed in citrus or Nicotiana benthamiana. Artificially designed TAL effectors directed to sequences in the CsLOB1 promoter region, but not the CsSWEET1 promoter, promoted pustule formation and higher bacterial leaf populations. Three additional distinct TAL effector genes, pthA*, pthB, and pthC, also direct pustule formation and expression of CsLOB1. Unlike pthA4 and pthAw, pthB and pthC do not promote the expression of CsSWEET1. CsLOB1 expression was associated with the expression of genes associated with cell expansion. The results indicate that CBC-inciting species of Xanthomonas exploit a single host disease susceptibility gene by altering the expression of an otherwise developmentally regulated gene using any one of a diverse set of TAL effector genes in the pathogen populations.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1313271111

    View details for PubMedID 24474801

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3910620

  • Determination of glucose flux in live myoblasts by microfluidic nanosensing and mathematical modeling. Integrative biology : quantitative biosciences from nano to macro Zambon, A., Zoso, A., Luni, C., Frommer, W. B., Elvassore, N. 2014


    Glucose is the main energy source for cells in an organism and its blood concentration is tightly regulated in healthy individuals. However, impaired blood glucose control has been found in diseases such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and anomalous glucose utilization in cancer tissues. Dissecting the dynamics of the different phenomena involved in glucose handling (extracellular mass transport, membrane diffusion, and intracellular phosphorylation) is very relevant to identify which mechanisms are disrupted under disease conditions. In this work, we developed an effective methodology for quantitatively analyzing these phenomena in living cells. A measurement of steady-state glucose uptake is, by itself, insufficient to determine the dynamics of intracellular glucose. For this purpose, we integrated two types of measurements: cytosolic glucose concentration at the single-cell level, obtained using a cytosolic FRET nanosensor, and cell population glucose uptake, obtained without perturbing culture conditions using a microfluidic perfusion system. Microfluidics enabled accurate temporal stimulation of cells through cyclic pulses of glucose concentration at defined flow rates. We found that both, glucose uptake and phosphorylation, are linearly dependent on glucose concentration in the physiological range. Mathematical modeling enabled precise determination of the kinetic constants of membrane transport (0.27 s(-1)) and intracellular phosphorylation (2.01 s(-1)).

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c3ib40204e

    View details for PubMedID 24424957

  • Dynamic imaging of cytosolic zinc in Arabidopsis roots combining FRET sensors and RootChip technology New Phytologist Lanquar, V., Grossmann, G., Vinkenborg, J. L., Merkx, M., Thomine, S., Frommer, W. B. 2014; 202: 198-208

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nph.12652

  • Male-female communication triggers calcium signatures during fertilization in Arabidopsis. Nature communications Denninger, P., Bleckmann, A., Lausser, A., Vogler, F., Ott, T., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B., Sprunck, S., Dresselhaus, T., Grossmann, G. 2014; 5: 4645-?

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms5645

    View details for PubMedID 25145880

  • Abscisic acid dynamics in roots detected with genetically encoded FRET sensors. eLife Jones, A. M., Danielson, J. A., Manojkumar, S. N., Lanquar, V., Grossmann, G., Frommer, W. B. 2014; 3


    Cytosolic hormone levels must be tightly controlled at the level of influx, efflux, synthesis, degradation and compartmentation. To determine ABA dynamics at the single cell level, FRET sensors (ABACUS) covering a range ∼0.2-800 µM were engineered using structure-guided design and a high-throughput screening platform. When expressed in yeast, ABACUS1 detected concentrative ABA uptake mediated by the AIT1/NRT1.2 transporter. Arabidopsis roots expressing ABACUS1-2µ (Kd∼2 µM) and ABACUS1-80µ (Kd∼80 µM) respond to perfusion with ABA in a concentration-dependent manner. The properties of the observed ABA accumulation in roots appear incompatible with the activity of known ABA transporters (AIT1, ABCG40). ABACUS reveals effects of external ABA on homeostasis, that is, ABA-triggered induction of ABA degradation, modification, or compartmentation. ABACUS can be used to study ABA responses in mutants and quantitatively monitor ABA translocation and regulation, and identify missing components. The sensor screening platform promises to enable rapid fine-tuning of the ABA sensors and engineering of plant and animal hormone sensors to advance our understanding of hormone signaling. DOI:

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.01741

    View details for PubMedID 24737862

  • SWEET17, a Facilitative Transporter, Mediates Fructose Transport across the Tonoplast of Arabidopsis Roots and Leaves Plant Biologists Guo, W. J., Nagy, R., Chen, H. Y., Pfrunder, S., Yu, Y. C., Santelia, D., Frommer, W. B., Martinoia, E. 2014; 164 (2): 777-789

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.113.232751

  • Functional role of oligomerization for bacterial and plant SWEET sugar transporter family. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Xuan, Y. H., Hu, Y. B., Chen, L., Sosso, D., Ducat, D. C., Hou, B., Frommer, W. B. 2013; 110 (39): E3685-94


    Eukaryotic sugar transporters of the MFS and SWEET superfamilies consist of 12 and 7 α-helical transmembrane domains (TMs), respectively. Structural analyses indicate that MFS transporters evolved from a series of tandem duplications of an ancestral 3-TM unit. SWEETs are heptahelical proteins carrying a tandem repeat of 3-TM separated by a single TM. Here, we show that prokaryotes have ancestral SWEET homologs with only 3-TM and that the Bradyrhizobium japonicum SemiSWEET1, like Arabidopsis SWEET11, mediates sucrose transport. Eukaryotic SWEETs most likely evolved by internal duplication of the 3-TM, suggesting that SemiSWEETs form oligomers to create a functional pore. However, it remains elusive whether the 7-TM SWEETs are the functional unit or require oligomerization to form a pore sufficiently large to allow for sucrose passage. Split ubiquitin yeast two-hybrid and split GFP assays indicate that Arabidopsis SWEETs homo- and heterooligomerize. We examined mutant SWEET variants for negative dominance to test if oligomerization is necessary for function. Mutation of the conserved Y57 or G58 in SWEET1 led to loss of activity. Coexpression of the defective mutants with functional A. thaliana SWEET1 inhibited glucose transport, indicating that homooligomerization is necessary for function. Collectively, these data imply that the basic unit of SWEETs, similar to MFS sugar transporters, is a 3-TM unit and that a functional transporter contains at least four such domains. We hypothesize that the functional unit of the SWEET family of transporters possesses a structure resembling the 12-TM MFS structure, however, with a parallel orientation of the 3-TM unit.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1311244110

    View details for PubMedID 24027245

  • Fluorescent sensors reporting the activity of ammonium transceptors in live cells ELIFE De Michele, R., Ast, C., Loque, D., Ho, C., Andrade, S. L., Lanquar, V., Grossmann, G., Gehne, S., Kumke, M. U., Frommer, W. B. 2013; 2


    Ammonium serves as key nitrogen source and metabolic intermediate, yet excess causes toxicity. Ammonium uptake is mediated by ammonium transporters, whose regulation is poorly understood. While transport can easily be characterized in heterologous systems, measuring transporter activity in vivo remains challenging. Here we developed a simple assay for monitoring activity in vivo by inserting circularly-permutated GFP into conformation-sensitive positions of two plant and one yeast ammonium transceptors ('AmTrac' and 'MepTrac'). Addition of ammonium to yeast cells expressing the sensors triggered concentration-dependent fluorescence intensity (FI) changes that strictly correlated with the activity of the transporter. Fluorescence-based activity sensors present a novel technology for monitoring the interaction of the transporters with their substrates, the activity of transporters and their regulation in vivo, which is particularly valuable in the context of analytes for which no radiotracers exist, as well as for cell-specific and subcellular transport processes that are otherwise difficult to track. DOI:

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.00800

    View details for Web of Science ID 000328619700006

    View details for PubMedID 23840931

  • Differential regulation of glucose transport activity in yeast by specific cAMP signatures BIOCHEMICAL JOURNAL Bermejo, C., Haerizadeh, F., Sadoine, M. S., Chermak, D., Frommer, W. B. 2013; 452: 489-497


    Successful colonization and survival in variable environments require a competitive advantage during the initial growth phase after experiencing nutrient changes. Starved yeast cells anticipate exposure to glucose by activating the Hxt5p (hexose transporter 5) glucose transporter, which provides an advantage during early phases after glucose resupply. cAMP and glucose FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) sensors were used to identify three signalling pathways that co-operate in the anticipatory Hxt5p activity in glucose-starved cells: as expected the Snf1 (sucrose nonfermenting 1) AMP kinase pathway, but, surprisingly, the sugar-dependent G-protein-coupled Gpr1 (G-protein-coupled receptor 1)/cAMP/PKA (protein kinase A) pathway and the Pho85 (phosphate metabolism 85)/Plc (phospholipase C) 6/7 pathway. Gpr1/cAMP/PKA are key elements of a G-protein-coupled sugar response pathway that produces a transient cAMP peak to induce growth-related genes. A novel function of the Gpr1/cAMP/PKA pathway was identified in glucose-starved cells: during starvation the Gpr1/cAMP/PKA pathway is required to maintain Hxt5p activity in the absence of glucose-induced cAMP spiking. During starvation, cAMP levels remain low triggering expression of HXT5, whereas cAMP spiking leads to a shift to the high capacity Hxt isoforms.

    View details for DOI 10.1042/BJ20121736

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320214100012

    View details for PubMedID 23495665

  • In vivo biochemistry: applications for small molecule biosensors in plant biology. Current opinion in plant biology Jones, A. M., Grossmann, G., Danielson, J. Å., Sosso, D., Chen, L., Ho, C., Frommer, W. B. 2013; 16 (3): 389-395


    Revolutionary new technologies, namely in the areas of DNA sequencing and molecular imaging, continue to impact new discoveries in plant science and beyond. For decades we have been able to determine properties of enzymes, receptors and transporters in vitro or in heterologous systems, and more recently been able to analyze their regulation at the transcriptional level, to use GFP reporters for obtaining insights into cellular and subcellular localization, and tp measure ion and metabolite levels with unprecedented precision using mass spectrometry. However, we lack key information on the location and dynamics of the substrates of enzymes, receptors and transporters, and on the regulation of these proteins in their cellular environment. Such information can now be obtained by transitioning from in vitro to in vivo biochemistry using biosensors. Genetically encoded fluorescent protein-based sensors for ion and metabolite dynamics provide highly resolved spatial and temporal information, and are complemented by sensors for pH, redox, voltage, and tension. They serve as powerful tools for identifying missing processes (e.g., glucose transport across ER membranes), components (e.g., SWEET sugar transporters for cellular sugar efflux), and signaling networks (e.g., from systematic screening of mutants that affect sugar transport or cytosolic and vacuolar pH). Combined with the knowledge of properties of enzymes and transporters and their interactions with the regulatory machinery, biosensors promise to be key diagnostic tools for systems and synthetic biology.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pbi.2013.02.010

    View details for PubMedID 23587939

  • Using membrane transporters to improve crops for sustainable food production. Nature Schroeder, J. I., Delhaize, E., Frommer, W. B., Guerinot, M. L., Harrison, M. J., Herrera-Estrella, L., Horie, T., Kochian, L. V., Munns, R., Nishizawa, N. K., Tsay, Y., Sanders, D. 2013; 497 (7447): 60-66


    With the global population predicted to grow by at least 25 per cent by 2050, the need for sustainable production of nutritious foods is critical for human and environmental health. Recent advances show that specialized plant membrane transporters can be used to enhance yields of staple crops, increase nutrient content and increase resistance to key stresses, including salinity, pathogens and aluminium toxicity, which in turn could expand available arable land.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature11909

    View details for PubMedID 23636397



    Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protects hippocampal neurons from glutamate excitotoxicity as determined by analysis of chromatin condensation, through activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) signaling pathways. However, it is still unknown whether BDNF also prevents the degeneration of axons and dendrites, and the functional demise of synapses, which would be required to preserve neuronal activity. Herein, we have studied the time-dependent changes in several neurobiological markers, and the regulation of proteolytic mechanisms in cultured rat hippocampal neurons, through quantitative western blot and immunocytochemistry. Calpain activation peaked immediately after the neurodegenerative input, followed by a transient increase in ubiquitin-conjugated proteins and increased abundance of cleaved-caspase-3. Proteasome and calpain inhibition did not reproduce the protective effect of BDNF and caspase inhibition in preventing chromatin condensation. However, proteasome and calpain inhibition did protect the neuronal markers for dendrites (MAP-2), axons (Neurofilament-H) and the vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUT1-2), whereas caspase inhibition was unable to mimic the protective effect of BDNF on neurites and synaptic markers. BDNF partially prevented the downregulation of synaptic activity measured by the KCl-evoked glutamate release using a Förster (Fluorescence) resonance energy transfer (FRET) glutamate nanosensor. These results translate a time-dependent activation of proteases and spatial segregation of these mechanisms, where calpain activation is followed by proteasome deregulation, from neuronal processes to the soma, and finally by caspase activation in the cell body. Moreover, PI3-K and PLCγ small molecule inhibitors significantly blocked the protective action of BDNF, suggesting an activity-dependent mechanism of neuroprotection. Ultimately, we hypothesize that neuronal repair after a degenerative insult is initiated at the synaptic level.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.01.054

    View details for Web of Science ID 000317537800008

    View details for PubMedID 23384605

  • Allosteric regulation of transport activity by heterotrimerization of Arabidopsis ammonium transporter complexes in vivo. Plant cell Yuan, L., Gu, R., Xuan, Y., Smith-Valle, E., Loqué, D., Frommer, W. B., von Wirén, N. 2013; 25 (3): 974-984


    Ammonium acquisition by plant roots is mediated by AMMONIUM TRANSPORTERs (AMTs), ubiquitous membrane proteins with essential roles in nitrogen nutrition in all organisms. In microbial and plant cells, ammonium transport activity is controlled by ammonium-triggered feedback inhibition to prevent cellular ammonium toxicity. Data from heterologous expression in yeast indicate that oligomerization of plant AMTs is critical for allosteric regulation of transport activity, in which the conserved cytosolic C terminus functions as a trans-activator. Employing the coexpressed transporters AMT1;1 and AMT1;3 from Arabidopsis thaliana as a model, we show here that these two isoforms form functional homo- and heterotrimers in yeast and plant roots and that AMT1;3 carrying a phosphomimic residue in its C terminus regulates both homo- and heterotrimers in a dominant-negative fashion in vivo. (15)NH4(+) influx studies further indicate that allosteric inhibition represses ammonium transport activity in roots of transgenic Arabidopsis expressing a phosphomimic mutant together with functional AMT1;3 or AMT1;1. Our study demonstrates in planta a regulatory role in transport activity of heterooligomerization of transporter isoforms, which may enhance their versatility for signal exchange in response to environmental triggers.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.112.108027

    View details for PubMedID 23463773

  • Plant science. Jack of all trades, master of flowering. Science Danielson, J. Å., Frommer, W. B. 2013; 339 (6120): 659-660

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1234601

    View details for PubMedID 23393256

  • A genetically encoded FRET lactate sensor and its use to detect the Warburg effect in single cancer cells. PloS one San Martín, A., Ceballo, S., Ruminot, I., Lerchundi, R., Frommer, W. B., Barros, L. F. 2013; 8 (2)


    Lactate is shuttled between and inside cells, playing metabolic and signaling roles in healthy tissues. Lactate is also a harbinger of altered metabolism and participates in the pathogenesis of inflammation, hypoxia/ischemia, neurodegeneration and cancer. Many tumor cells show high rates of lactate production in the presence of oxygen, a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect, which has diagnostic and possibly therapeutic implications. In this article we introduce Laconic, a genetically-encoded Forster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-based lactate sensor designed on the bacterial transcription factor LldR. Laconic quantified lactate from 1 µM to 10 mM and was not affected by glucose, pyruvate, acetate, betahydroxybutyrate, glutamate, citrate, α-ketoglutarate, succinate, malate or oxalacetate at concentrations found in mammalian cytosol. Expressed in astrocytes, HEK cells and T98G glioma cells, the sensor allowed dynamic estimation of lactate levels in single cells. Used in combination with a blocker of the monocarboxylate transporter MCT, the sensor was capable of discriminating whether a cell is a net lactate producer or a net lactate consumer. Application of the MCT-block protocol showed that the basal rate of lactate production is 3-5 fold higher in T98G glioma cells than in normal astrocytes. In contrast, the rate of lactate accumulation in response to mitochondrial inhibition with sodium azide was 10 times lower in glioma than in astrocytes, consistent with defective tumor metabolism. A ratio between the rate of lactate production and the rate of azide-induced lactate accumulation, which can be estimated reversibly and in single cells, was identified as a highly sensitive parameter of the Warburg effect, with values of 4.1 ± 0.5 for T98G glioma cells and 0.07 ± 0.007 for astrocytes. In summary, this article describes a genetically-encoded sensor for lactate and its use to measure lactate concentration, lactate flux, and the Warburg effect in single mammalian cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0057712

    View details for PubMedID 23469056

  • Paramutation-Like Interaction of T-DNA Loci in Arabidopsis PLOS ONE Xue, W., Ruprecht, C., Street, N., Hematy, K., Chang, C., Frommer, W. B., Persson, S., Niittyla, T. 2012; 7 (12)


    In paramutation, epigenetic information is transferred from one allele to another to create a gene expression state which is stably inherited over generations. Typically, paramutation describes a phenomenon where one allele of a gene down-regulates the expression of another allele. Paramutation has been described in several eukaryotes and is best understood in plants. Here we describe an unexpected paramutation-like trans SALK T-DNA interaction in Arabidopsis. Unlike most of the previously described paramutations, which led to gene silencing, the trans SALK T-DNA interaction caused an increase in the transcript levels of the endogenous gene (COBRA) where the T-DNA was inserted. This increased COBRA expression state was stably inherited for several generations and led to the partial suppression of the cobra phenotype. DNA methylation was implicated in this trans SALK T-DNA interaction since mutation of the DNA methyltransferase 1 in the suppressed cobra caused a reversal of the suppression. In addition, null mutants of the DNA demethylase ROS1 caused a similar COBRA transcript increase in the cobra SALK T-DNA mutant as the trans T-DNA interaction. Our results provide a new example of a paramutation-like trans T-DNA interaction in Arabidopsis, and establish a convenient hypocotyl elongation assay to study this phenomenon. The results also alert to the possibility of unexpected endogenous transcript increase when two T-DNAs are combined in the same genetic background.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0051651

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312386800059

    View details for PubMedID 23272131

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3522736

  • Time-lapse Fluorescence Imaging of Arabidopsis Root Growth with Rapid Manipulation of The Root Environment Using The RootChip JOVE-JOURNAL OF VISUALIZED EXPERIMENTS Grossmann, G., Meier, M., Cartwright, H. N., Sosso, D., Quake, S. R., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B. 2012


    The root functions as the physical anchor of the plant and is the organ responsible for uptake of water and mineral nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfate and trace elements that plants acquire from the soil. If we want to develop sustainable approaches to producing high crop yield, we need to better understand how the root develops, takes up a wide spectrum of nutrients, and interacts with symbiotic and pathogenic organisms. To accomplish these goals, we need to be able to explore roots in microscopic detail over time periods ranging from minutes to days. We developed the RootChip, a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)- based microfluidic device, which allows us to grow and image roots from Arabidopsis seedlings while avoiding any physical stress to roots during preparation for imaging(1) (Figure 1). The device contains a bifurcated channel structure featuring micromechanical valves to guide the fluid flow from solution inlets to each of the eight observation chambers(2). This perfusion system allows the root microenvironment to be controlled and modified with precision and speed. The volume of the chambers is approximately 400 nl, thus requiring only minimal amounts of test solution. Here we provide a detailed protocol for studying root biology on the RootChip using imaging-based approaches with real time resolution. Roots can be analyzed over several days using time lapse microscopy. Roots can be perfused with nutrient solutions or inhibitors, and up to eight seedlings can be analyzed in parallel. This system has the potential for a wide range of applications, including analysis of root growth in the presence or absence of chemicals, fluorescence-based analysis of gene expression, and the analysis of biosensors, e.g. FRET nanosensors(3).

    View details for DOI 10.3791/4290

    View details for Web of Science ID 000209223200051

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3471268

  • A never ending race for new and improved fluorescent proteins BMC BIOLOGY Jones, A. M., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 10


    Bioluminescent and fluorescent proteins are now used as tools for research in all organisms. There has been massive progress over the past 15 years in creating a palette of fluorescent proteins with a wide spectrum of specific properties. One of the big challenges is to decide which variant may be best for a certain application. A recent article by Mann et al. in BMC Biotechnology describes a new orange fluorescent protein in plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1741-7007-10-39

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303598000001

    View details for PubMedID 22554191

  • The Ubiquitin E3 Ligase LOSS OF GDU2 Is Required for GLUTAMINE DUMPER1-Induced Amino Acid Secretion in Arabidopsis PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Pratelli, R., Guerra, D. D., Yu, S., Wogulis, M., Kraft, E., Frommer, W. B., Callis, J., Pilot, G. 2012; 158 (4): 1628-1642


    Amino acids serve as transport forms for organic nitrogen in the plant, and multiple transport steps are involved in cellular import and export. While the nature of the export mechanism is unknown, overexpression of GLUTAMINE DUMPER1 (GDU1) in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) led to increased amino acid export. To gain insight into GDU1's role, we searched for ethyl-methanesulfonate suppressor mutants and performed yeast-two-hybrid screens. Both methods uncovered the same gene, LOSS OF GDU2 (LOG2), which encodes a RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligase. The interaction between LOG2 and GDU1 was confirmed by glutathione S-transferase pull-down, in vitro ubiquitination, and in planta coimmunoprecipitation experiments. Confocal microscopy and subcellular fractionation indicated that LOG2 and GDU1 both localized to membranes and were enriched at the plasma membrane. LOG2 expression overlapped with GDU1 in the xylem and phloem tissues of Arabidopsis. The GDU1 protein encoded by the previously characterized intragenic suppressor mutant log1-1, with an arginine in place of a conserved glycine, failed to interact in the multiple assays, suggesting that the Gdu1D phenotype requires the interaction of GDU1 with LOG2. This hypothesis was supported by suppression of the Gdu1D phenotype after reduction of LOG2 expression using either artificial microRNAs or a LOG2 T-DNA insertion. Altogether, in accordance with the emerging bulk of data showing membrane protein regulation via ubiquitination, these data suggest that the interaction of GDU1 and the ubiquitin ligase LOG2 plays a significant role in the regulation of amino acid export from plant cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.111.191965

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303001400013

    View details for PubMedID 22291198

  • New Technologies for 21st Century Plant Science PLANT CELL Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 24 (2): 374-394


    Plants are one of the most fascinating and important groups of organisms living on Earth. They serve as the conduit of energy into the biosphere, provide food, and shape our environment. If we want to make headway in understanding how these essential organisms function and build the foundation for a more sustainable future, then we need to apply the most advanced technologies available to the study of plant life. In 2009, a committee of the National Academy highlighted the "understanding of plant growth" as one of the big challenges for society and part of a new era which they termed "new biology." The aim of this article is to identify how new technologies can and will transform plant science to address the challenges of new biology. We assess where we stand today regarding current technologies, with an emphasis on molecular and imaging technologies, and we try to address questions about where we may go in the future and whether we can get an idea of what is at and beyond the horizon.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.111.093302

    View details for Web of Science ID 000302131000004

    View details for PubMedID 22366161

  • Sucrose Efflux Mediated by SWEET Proteins as a Key Step for Phloem Transport SCIENCE Chen, L., Qu, X., Hou, B., Sosso, D., Osorio, S., Fernie, A. R., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 335 (6065): 207-211


    Plants transport fixed carbon predominantly as sucrose, which is produced in mesophyll cells and imported into phloem cells for translocation throughout the plant. It is not known how sucrose migrates from sites of synthesis in the mesophyll to the phloem, or which cells mediate efflux into the apoplasm as a prerequisite for phloem loading by the SUT sucrose-H(+) (proton) cotransporters. Using optical sucrose sensors, we identified a subfamily of SWEET sucrose efflux transporters. AtSWEET11 and 12 localize to the plasma membrane of the phloem. Mutant plants carrying insertions in AtSWEET11 and 12 are defective in phloem loading, thus revealing a two-step mechanism of SWEET-mediated export from parenchyma cells feeding H(+)-coupled import into the sieve element-companion cell complex. We discuss how restriction of intercellular transport to the interface of adjacent phloem cells may be an effective mechanism to limit the availability of photosynthetic carbon in the leaf apoplasm in order to prevent pathogen infections.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1213351

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299033100050

    View details for PubMedID 22157085

  • Amino Acid transporter inventory of the selaginella genome. Frontiers in plant science Wipf, D., Loqué, D., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 3: 36-?


    Amino acids play fundamental roles in a multitude of functions including protein synthesis, hormone metabolism, nerve transmission, cell growth, production of metabolic energy, nucleobase synthesis, nitrogen metabolism, and urea biosynthesis. Selaginella as a member of the lycophytes is part of an ancient lineage of vascular plants that had arisen ∼400 million years ago. In angiosperms, which have attracted most of the attention for nutrient transport so far, we have been able to identify many of the key transporters for nitrogen. Their role is not always fully clear, thus an analysis of Selaginella as a representative of an ancient vascular plant may help shed light on the evolution and function of these diverse transporters. Here we annotated and analyzed the genes encoding putative transporters involved in cellular uptake of amino acids present in the Selaginella genome.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpls.2012.00036

    View details for PubMedID 22639646

  • The Arabidopsis CstF64-like RSR1/ESP1 protein participates in glucose signaling and flowering time control FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE Funck, D., Clauss, K., Frommer, W. B., Hellmann, H. A. 2012; 3
  • SUT sucrose and MST monosaccharide transporter inventory of the Selaginella genome FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 3
  • Ammonium and urea transporter inventory of the selaginella and physcomitrella genomes. Frontiers in plant science De Michele, R., Loqué, D., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 3: 62-?


    Ammonium and urea are important nitrogen sources for autotrophic organisms. Plant genomes encode several families of specific transporters for these molecules, plus other uptake mechanisms such as aquaporins and ABC transporters. Selaginella and Physcomitrella are representatives of lycophytes and bryophytes, respectively, and the recent completion of their genome sequences provided us with an opportunity for comparative genome studies, with special emphasis on the adaptive processes that accompanied the conquest of dry land and the evolution of a vascular system. Our phylogenetic analysis revealed that the number of genes encoding urea transporters underwent a progressive reduction during evolution, eventually down to a single copy in vascular plants. Conversely, no clear evolutionary pattern was found for ammonium transporters, and their number and distribution in families varies between species. In particular Selaginella, similar to rice, favors the AMT2/MEP family of ammonium transporters over the plant-specific AMT1 type. In comparison, Physcomitrella presents several members belonging to both families.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpls.2012.00062

    View details for PubMedID 22639655

  • Quantitative Imaging with Fluorescent Biosensors ANNUAL REVIEW OF PLANT BIOLOGY, VOL 63 Okumoto, S., Jones, A., Frommer, W. B. 2012; 63: 663-706


    Molecular activities are highly dynamic and can occur locally in subcellular domains or compartments. Neighboring cells in the same tissue can exist in different states. Therefore, quantitative information on the cellular and subcellular dynamics of ions, signaling molecules, and metabolites is critical for functional understanding of organisms. Mass spectrometry is generally used for monitoring ions and metabolites; however, its temporal and spatial resolution are limited. Fluorescent proteins have revolutionized many areas of biology-e.g., fluorescent proteins can report on gene expression or protein localization in real time-yet promoter-based reporters are often slow to report physiologically relevant changes such as calcium oscillations. Therefore, novel tools are required that can be deployed in specific cells and targeted to subcellular compartments in order to quantify target molecule dynamics directly. We require tools that can measure enzyme activities, protein dynamics, and biophysical processes (e.g., membrane potential or molecular tension) with subcellular resolution. Today, we have an extensive suite of tools at our disposal to address these challenges, including translocation sensors, fluorescence-intensity sensors, and Förster resonance energy transfer sensors. This review summarizes sensor design principles, provides a database of sensors for more than 70 different analytes/processes, and gives examples of applications in quantitative live cell imaging.

    View details for DOI 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042110-103745

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307953100027

    View details for PubMedID 22404462

  • Critic at large: Food for Thought. The Scientist Brutnell, T., Frommer, W.B. 2012; 6: 23-25
  • Uncovering Arabidopsis membrane protein interactome enriched in transporters using mating-based split ubiquitin assays and classification models. Frontiers in plant science Chen, J., Lalonde, S., Obrdlik, P., Noorani Vatani, A., Parsa, S. A., Vilarino, C., Revuelta, J. L., Frommer, W. B., Rhee, S. Y. 2012; 3: 124-?


    High-throughput data are a double-edged sword; for the benefit of large amount of data, there is an associated cost of noise. To increase reliability and scalability of high-throughput protein interaction data generation, we tested the efficacy of classification to enrich potential protein-protein interactions. We applied this method to identify interactions among Arabidopsis membrane proteins enriched in transporters. We validated our method with multiple retests. Classification improved the quality of the ensuing interaction network and was effective in reducing the search space and increasing true positive rate. The final network of 541 interactions among 239 proteins (of which 179 are transporters) is the first protein interaction network enriched in membrane transporters reported for any organism. This network has similar topological attributes to other published protein interaction networks. It also extends and fills gaps in currently available biological networks in plants and allows building a number of hypotheses about processes and mechanisms involving signal-transduction and transport systems.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpls.2012.00124

    View details for PubMedID 22737156

  • Engineering Genetically Encoded Nanosensors for Real-Time In Vivo Measurements of Citrate Concentrations PLOS ONE Ewald, J. C., Reich, S., Baumann, S., Frommer, W. B., Zamboni, N. 2011; 6 (12)


    Citrate is an intermediate in catabolic as well as biosynthetic pathways and is an important regulatory molecule in the control of glycolysis and lipid metabolism. Mass spectrometric and NMR based metabolomics allow measuring citrate concentrations, but only with limited spatial and temporal resolution. Methods are so far lacking to monitor citrate levels in real-time in-vivo. Here, we present a series of genetically encoded citrate sensors based on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET). We screened databases for citrate-binding proteins and tested three candidates in vitro. The citrate binding domain of the Klebsiella pneumoniae histidine sensor kinase CitA, inserted between the FRET pair Venus/CFP, yielded a sensor highly specific for citrate. We optimized the peptide linkers to achieve maximal FRET change upon citrate binding. By modifying residues in the citrate binding pocket, we were able to construct seven sensors with different affinities spanning a concentration range of three orders of magnitude without losing specificity. In a first in vivo application we show that E. coli maintains the capacity to take up glucose or acetate within seconds even after long-term starvation.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0028245

    View details for Web of Science ID 000298171400052

    View details for PubMedID 22164251

  • The RootChip: An Integrated Microfluidic Chip for Plant Science PLANT CELL Grossmann, G., Guo, W., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B., Sit, R. V., Quake, S. R., Meier, M. 2011; 23 (12): 4234-4240


    Studying development and physiology of growing roots is challenging due to limitations regarding cellular and subcellular analysis under controlled environmental conditions. We describe a microfluidic chip platform, called RootChip, that integrates live-cell imaging of growth and metabolism of Arabidopsis thaliana roots with rapid modulation of environmental conditions. The RootChip has separate chambers for individual regulation of the microenvironment of multiple roots from multiple seedlings in parallel. We demonstrate the utility of The RootChip by monitoring time-resolved growth and cytosolic sugar levels at subcellular resolution in plants by a genetically encoded fluorescence sensor for glucose and galactose. The RootChip can be modified for use with roots from other plant species by adapting the chamber geometry and facilitates the systematic analysis of root growth and metabolism from multiple seedlings, paving the way for large-scale phenotyping of root metabolism and signaling.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.111.092577

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299677700010

    View details for PubMedID 22186371

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3269862

  • Optical sensors for monitoring dynamic changes of intracellular metabolite levels in mammalian cells NATURE PROTOCOLS Hou, B., Takanaga, H., Grossmann, G., Chen, L., Qu, X., Jones, A. M., Lalonde, S., Schweissgut, O., Wiechert, W., Frommer, W. B. 2011; 6 (11): 1818-1833


    Knowledge of the in vivo levels, distribution and flux of ions and metabolites is crucial to our understanding of physiology in both healthy and diseased states. The quantitative analysis of the dynamics of ions and metabolites with subcellular resolution in vivo poses a major challenge for the analysis of metabolic processes. Genetically encoded Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors can be used for real-time in vivo detection of metabolites. FRET sensor proteins, for example, for glucose, can be targeted genetically to any cellular compartment, or even to subdomains (e.g., a membrane surface), by adding signal sequences or fusing the sensors to specific proteins. The sensors can be used for analyses in individual mammalian cells in culture, in tissue slices and in intact organisms. Applications include gene discovery, high-throughput drug screens or systematic analysis of regulatory networks affecting uptake, efflux and metabolism. Quantitative analyses obtained with the help of FRET sensors for glucose or other ions and metabolites provide valuable data for modeling of flux. Here we provide a detailed protocol for monitoring glucose levels in the cytosol of mammalian cell cultures through the use of FRET glucose sensors; moreover, the protocol can be used for other ions and metabolites and for analyses in other organisms, as has been successfully demonstrated in bacteria, yeast and even intact plants. The whole procedure typically takes ∼4 d including seeding and transfection of mammalian cells; the FRET-based analysis of transfected cells takes ∼5 h.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nprot.2011.392

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296620000013

    View details for PubMedID 22036884

  • Optical sensors for measuring dynamic changes of cytosolic metabolite levels in yeast NATURE PROTOCOLS Bermejo, C., Haerizadeh, F., Takanaga, H., Chermak, D., Frommer, W. B. 2011; 6 (11): 1806-1817


    Optical sensors allow dynamic quantification of metabolite levels with subcellular resolution. Here we describe protocols for analyzing cytosolic glucose levels in yeast using genetically encoded Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors. FRET glucose sensors with different glucose affinities (K(d)) covering the low nano- to mid- millimolar range can be targeted genetically to the cytosol or to subcellular compartments. The sensors detect the glucose-induced conformational change in the bacterial periplasmic glucose/galactose binding protein MglB using FRET between two fluorescent protein variants. Measurements can be performed with a single sensor or multiple sensors in parallel. In one approach, cytosolic glucose accumulation is measured in yeast cultures in a 96-well plate using a fluorimeter. Upon excitation of the cyan fluorescent protein (CFP), emission intensities of CFP and YFP (yellow fluorescent protein) are captured before and after glucose addition. FRET sensors provide temporally resolved quantitative data of glucose for the compartment of interest. In a second approach, reversible changes of cytosolic free glucose are measured in individual yeast cells trapped in a microfluidic platform, allowing perfusion of different solutions while FRET changes are monitored in a microscope setup. By using the microplate fluorimeter protocol, 96 cultures can be measured in less than 1 h; analysis of single cells of a single genotype can be completed in <2 h. FRET-based analysis has been performed with glucose, maltose, ATP and zinc sensors, and it can easily be adapted for high-throughput screening using a wide spectrum of sensors.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nprot.2011.391

    View details for Web of Science ID 000296620000012

    View details for PubMedID 22036883

  • In VIVO biochemistry: quantifying ion and metabolite levels in individual cells or cultures of yeast BIOCHEMICAL JOURNAL Bermejo, C., Ewald, J. C., Lanquar, V., Jones, A. M., Frommer, W. B. 2011; 438: 1-10


    Over the past decade, we have learned that cellular processes, including signalling and metabolism, are highly compartmentalized, and that relevant changes in metabolic state can occur at sub-second timescales. Moreover, we have learned that individual cells in populations, or as part of a tissue, exist in different states. If we want to understand metabolic processes and signalling better, it will be necessary to measure biochemical and biophysical responses of individual cells with high temporal and spatial resolution. Fluorescence imaging has revolutionized all aspects of biology since it has the potential to provide information on the cellular and subcellular distribution of ions and metabolites with sub-second time resolution. In the present review we summarize recent progress in quantifying ions and metabolites in populations of yeast cells as well as in individual yeast cells with the help of quantitative fluorescent indicators, namely FRET metabolite sensors. We discuss the opportunities and potential pitfalls and the controls that help preclude misinterpretation.

    View details for DOI 10.1042/BJ20110428

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294083400001

    View details for PubMedID 21793803

  • The Selaginella Genome Identifies Genetic Changes Associated with the Evolution of Vascular Plants SCIENCE Banks, J. A., Nishiyama, T., Hasebe, M., Bowman, J. L., Gribskov, M., Depamphilis, C., Albert, V. A., Aono, N., Aoyama, T., Ambrose, B. A., Ashton, N. W., Axtell, M. J., Barker, E., Barker, M. S., Bennetzen, J. L., Bonawitz, N. D., Chapple, C., Cheng, C., Correa, L. G., Dacre, M., DeBarry, J., Dreyer, I., Elias, M., Engstrom, E. M., Estelle, M., Feng, L., Finet, C., Floyd, S. K., Frommer, W. B., Fujita, T., Gramzow, L., Gutensohn, M., Harholt, J., Hattori, M., Heyl, A., Hirai, T., Hiwatashi, Y., Ishikawa, M., Iwata, M., Karol, K. G., Koehler, B., Kolukisaoglu, U., Kubo, M., Kurata, T., Lalonde, S., Li, K., Li, Y., Litt, A., Lyons, E., Manning, G., Maruyama, T., Michael, T. P., Mikami, K., Miyazaki, S., Morinaga, S., Murata, T., Mueller-Roeber, B., Nelson, D. R., Obara, M., Oguri, Y., Olmstead, R. G., Onodera, N., Petersen, B. L., Pils, B., Prigge, M., Rensing, S. A., Mauricio Riano-Pachon, D., Roberts, A. W., Sato, Y., Scheller, H. V., Schulz, B., Schulz, C., Shakirov, E. V., Shibagaki, N., Shinohara, N., Shippen, D. E., Sorensen, I., Sotooka, R., Sugimoto, N., Sugita, M., Sumikawa, N., Tanurdzic, M., Theissen, G., Ulvskov, P., Wakazuki, S., Weng, J., Willats, W. W., Wipf, D., Wolf, P. G., Yang, L., Zimmer, A. D., Zhu, Q., Mitros, T., Hellsten, U., Loque, D., Otillar, R., Salamov, A., Schmutz, J., Shapiro, H., Lindquist, E., Lucas, S., Rokhsar, D., Grigoriev, I. V. 2011; 332 (6032): 960-963


    Vascular plants appeared ~410 million years ago, then diverged into several lineages of which only two survive: the euphyllophytes (ferns and seed plants) and the lycophytes. We report here the genome sequence of the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii (Selaginella), the first nonseed vascular plant genome reported. By comparing gene content in evolutionarily diverse taxa, we found that the transition from a gametophyte- to a sporophyte-dominated life cycle required far fewer new genes than the transition from a nonseed vascular to a flowering plant, whereas secondary metabolic genes expanded extensively and in parallel in the lycophyte and angiosperm lineages. Selaginella differs in posttranscriptional gene regulation, including small RNA regulation of repetitive elements, an absence of the trans-acting small interfering RNA pathway, and extensive RNA editing of organellar genes.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1203810

    View details for Web of Science ID 000290766600042

    View details for PubMedID 21551031

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3166216

  • Dynamic imaging of glucose flux impedance using FRET sensors in wild-type Arabidopsis plants JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY Chaudhuri, B., Hoermann, F., Frommer, W. B. 2011; 62 (7): 2411-2417


    Quantitative and dynamic analysis of metabolites and signalling molecules is limited by technical challenges in obtaining temporally resolved information at the cellular and compartmental level. Real-time information on signalling and metabolite levels with subcellular granularity can be obtained with the help of genetically encoded FRET (Förster resonance energy transfer) nanosensors. FRET nanosensors represent powerful tools for gene discovery, and analysis of regulatory networks, for example by screening mutants. However, RNA silencing has impaired our ability to express FRET nanosensors functionally in Arabidopsis plants. This drawback was overcome here by expressing the nanosensors in RNA silencing mutants. However, the use of silencing mutants requires the generation of homozygous lines deficient in RNA silencing as well as the mutation of interest and co-expression of the nanosensor. Here it is shown that dynamic changes in cytosolic glucose levels can readily be quantified in wild-type Arabidopsis plants at early stages of development (7-15 d) before silencing had a major effect on fluorescence intensity. A detailed protocol for screening 10-20 mutant seedlings per day is provided. The detailed imaging protocol provided here is suitable for analysing sugar flux in young wild-type plants as well as mutants affected in sugar signalling, metabolism, or transport using a wide spectrum of FRET nanosensors.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jxb/erq444

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289835700016

    View details for PubMedID 21266495

  • N-terminal cysteines affect oligomer stability of the allosterically regulated ammonium transporter LeAMT1;1 JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY Graff, L., Obrdlik, P., Yuan, L., Loque, D., Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 2011; 62 (4): 1361-1373


    AMMONIUM TRANSPORTER (AMT) proteins are conserved in all domains of life and mediate the transport of ammonium or ammonia across cell membranes. AMTs form trimers and use intermolecular interaction between subunits to regulate activity. So far, binding forces that stabilize AMT protein complexes are not well characterized. High temperature or reducing agents released mono- and dimeric forms from trimeric complexes formed by AMT1;1 from Arabidopsis and tomato. However, in the paralogue LeAMT1;3, trimeric complexes were not detected. LeAMT1;3 differs from the other AMTs by an unusually short N-terminus, suggesting a role for the N-terminus in oligomer stability. Truncation of the N-terminus in LeAMT1;1 destabilized the trimer and led to loss of functionality when expressed in yeast. Swapping of the N-terminus between LeAMT1;1 and LeAMT1;3 showed that sequences in the N-terminus of LeAMT1;1 are necessary and sufficient for stabilization of the interaction among the subunits. Two N-terminal cysteine residues are highly conserved among AMT1 transporters in plants but are lacking in LeAMT1;3. C3S or C27S variants of LeAMT1;1 showed reduced complex stability, which coincided with lower transport capacity for the substrate analogue methylammonium. Both cysteine-substituted LeAMT1;1 variants showed weaker interactions with the wildtype as determined by a quantitative analysis of the complex stability using the mating-based split-ubiquitin assay. These data indicate that the binding affinity of AMT1 subunits is stabilized by cysteines in the N-terminus and suggest a role for disulphide bridge formation via apoplastic N-terminal cysteine residues.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jxb/erq379

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286989700003

    View details for PubMedID 21127027

  • Dynamic analysis of cytosolic glucose and ATP levels in yeast using optical sensors BIOCHEMICAL JOURNAL Bermejo, C., Haerizadeh, F., Takanaga, H., Chermak, D., Frommer, W. B. 2010; 432: 399-406


    Precise and dynamic measurement of intracellular metabolite levels has been hampered by difficulties in differentiating between adsorbed and imported fractions and the subcellular distribution between cytosol, endomembrane compartments and mitochondria. In the present study, genetically encoded FRET (Förster resonance energy transfer)-based sensors were deployed for dynamic measurements of free cytosolic glucose and ATP with varying external supply and in glucose-transport mutants. Moreover, by using the FRET sensors in a microfluidic platform, we were able to monitor in vivo changes of intracellular free glucose in individual yeast cells. We demonstrate the suitability of the FRET sensors for gaining physiological insight by demonstrating that free intracellular glucose and ATP levels are reduced in a hxt5Δ hexose-transporter mutant compared with wild-type and other hxtΔ strains.

    View details for DOI 10.1042/BJ20100946

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284813800018

    View details for PubMedID 20854260

  • Sugar transporters for intercellular exchange and nutrition of pathogens NATURE Chen, L., Hou, B., Lalonde, S., Takanaga, H., Hartung, M. L., Qu, X., Guo, W., Kim, J., Underwood, W., Chaudhuri, B., Chermak, D., Antony, G., White, F. F., Somerville, S. C., Mudgett, M. B., Frommer, W. B. 2010; 468 (7323): 527-U199


    Sugar efflux transporters are essential for the maintenance of animal blood glucose levels, plant nectar production, and plant seed and pollen development. Despite broad biological importance, the identity of sugar efflux transporters has remained elusive. Using optical glucose sensors, we identified a new class of sugar transporters, named SWEETs, and show that at least six out of seventeen Arabidopsis, two out of over twenty rice and two out of seven homologues in Caenorhabditis elegans, and the single copy human protein, mediate glucose transport. Arabidopsis SWEET8 is essential for pollen viability, and the rice homologues SWEET11 and SWEET14 are specifically exploited by bacterial pathogens for virulence by means of direct binding of a bacterial effector to the SWEET promoter. Bacterial symbionts and fungal and bacterial pathogens induce the expression of different SWEET genes, indicating that the sugar efflux function of SWEET transporters is probably targeted by pathogens and symbionts for nutritional gain. The metazoan homologues may be involved in sugar efflux from intestinal, liver, epididymis and mammary cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature09606

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284584200034

    View details for PubMedID 21107422

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3000469

  • Opportunities to Explore Plant Membrane Organization with Super-Resolution Microscopy PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Gutierrez, R., Grossmann, G., Frommer, W. B., Ehrhardt, D. W. 2010; 154 (2): 463-466

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.110.161703

    View details for Web of Science ID 000282512300008

    View details for PubMedID 20921164

  • Facilitative plasma membrane transporters function during ER transit FASEB JOURNAL Takanaga, H., Frommer, W. B. 2010; 24 (8): 2849-2858


    Although biochemical studies suggested a high permeability of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane for small molecules, proteomics identified few specialized ER transporters. To test functionality of transporters during ER passage, we tested whether glucose transporters (GLUTs, SGLTs) destined for the plasma membrane are active during ER transit. HepG2 cells were characterized by low-affinity ER transport activity, suggesting that ER uptake is protein mediated. The much-reduced capacity of HEK293T cells to take up glucose across the plasma membrane correlated with low ER transport. Ectopic expression of GLUT1, -2, -4, or -9 induced GLUT isoform-specific ER transport activity in HEK293T cells. In contrast, the Na(+)-glucose cotransporter SGLT1 mediated efficient plasma membrane glucose transport but no detectable ER uptake, probably because of lack of a sufficient sodium gradient across the ER membrane. In conclusion, we demonstrate that GLUTs are sufficient for mediating ER glucose transport en route to the plasma membrane. Because of the low volume of the ER, trace amounts of these uniporters contribute to ER solute import during ER transit, while uniporters and cation-coupled transporters carry out export from the ER, together potentially explaining the low selectivity of ER transport. Expression levels and residence time of transporters in the ER, as well as their coupling mechanisms, could be key determinants of ER permeability.

    View details for DOI 10.1096/fj.09-146472

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285005400025

    View details for PubMedID 20354141

  • Progress in physiological research and its relevance for agriculture and ecology. Current opinion in plant biology Frommer, W. B., Sonnewald, U. 2010

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pbi.2010.05.007

    View details for PubMedID 20605515

  • Adjusting ammonium uptake via phosphorylation. Plant signaling & behavior Lanquar, V., Frommer, W. B. 2010; 5 (6): 736-738


    In plants, AMT/MEP/Rh superfamily mediates high affinity ammonium uptake. AMT/MEP transporters form a trimeric complex, which requires a productive interaction between subunits in order to be functional. The AMT/MEP C-terminal domain is highly conserved in more than 700 AMT homologs from cyanobacteria to higher plants with no cases found to be lacking this domain. AMT1;1 exists in active and inactive states, probably controlled by the spatial positioning of the C-terminus. Ammonium triggers the phosphorylation of a conserved threonine residue (T460) in the C-terminus of AMT1;1 in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. The T460 phosphorylation level correlates with a decrease of root ammonium uptake. We propose that ammonium-induced phosphorylation modulates ammonium uptake as a general mechanism to protect against ammonium toxicity.

    View details for PubMedID 20418663

  • Stimulation of Nonselective Amino Acid Export by Glutamine Dumper Proteins PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Pratelli, R., Voll, L. M., Horst, R. J., Frommer, W. B., Pilot, G. 2010; 152 (2): 762-773


    Phloem and xylem transport of amino acids involves two steps: export from one cell type to the apoplasm, and subsequent import into adjacent cells. High-affinity import is mediated by proton/amino acid cotransporters, while the mechanism of export remains unclear. Enhanced expression of the plant-specific type I membrane protein Glutamine Dumper1 (GDU1) has previously been shown to induce the secretion of glutamine from hydathodes and increased amino acid content in leaf apoplasm and xylem sap. In this work, tolerance to low concentrations of amino acids and transport analyses using radiolabeled amino acids demonstrate that net amino acid uptake is reduced in the glutamine-secreting GDU1 overexpressor gdu1-1D. The net uptake rate of phenylalanine decreased over time, and amino acid net efflux was increased in gdu1-1D compared with the wild type, indicating increased amino acid export from cells. Independence of the export from proton gradients and ATP suggests that overexpression of GDU1 affects a passive export system. Each of the seven Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) GDU genes led to similar phenotypes, including increased efflux of a wide spectrum of amino acids. Differences in expression profiles and functional properties suggested that the GDU genes fulfill different roles in roots, vasculature, and reproductive organs. Taken together, the GDUs appear to stimulate amino acid export by activating nonselective amino acid facilitators.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.109.151746

    View details for Web of Science ID 000274246600032

    View details for PubMedID 20018597

  • Biochemistry. CO2mmon sense. Science Frommer, W. B. 2010; 327 (5963): 275-276

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1186022

    View details for PubMedID 20075235

  • Grand opportunities in plant science to address the grand challenges facing the planet. Frontiers in plant science Frommer, W. B. 2010; 1: 11-?

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fpls.2010.00011

    View details for PubMedID 22645524

  • A membrane protein/signaling protein interaction network for Arabidopsis version AMPv2 FRONTIERS IN PHYSIOLOGY Lalonde, S., Sero, A., Pratelli, R., Pilot, G., Chen, J., Sardi, M. I., Parsa, S. A., Kim, D., Acharya, B. R., Stein, E. V., Hu, H., Villiers, F., Takeda, K., Yang, Y., Han, Y. S., Schwacke, R., Chiang, W., Kato, N., Loque, D., Assmann, S. M., Kwak, J. M., Schroeder, J. I., Rhee, S. Y., Frommer, W. B. 2010; 1
  • Grand opportunities in physiology to address the grand challenges facing the planet. Frontiers in physiology Frommer, W. B. 2010; 1: 11-?

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fphys.2010.00011

    View details for PubMedID 21423354

  • High resolution measurement of the glycolytic rate. Frontiers in neuroenergetics Bittner, C. X., Loaiza, A., Ruminot, I., Larenas, V., Sotelo-Hitschfeld, T., Gutiérrez, R., Córdova, A., Valdebenito, R., Frommer, W. B., Barros, L. F. 2010; 2


    The glycolytic rate is sensitive to physiological activity, hormones, stress, aging, and malignant transformation. Standard techniques to measure the glycolytic rate are based on radioactive isotopes, are not able to resolve single cells and have poor temporal resolution, limitations that hamper the study of energy metabolism in the brain and other organs. A new method is described in this article, which makes use of a recently developed FRET glucose nanosensor to measure the rate of glycolysis in single cells with high temporal resolution. Used in cultured astrocytes, the method showed for the first time that glycolysis can be activated within seconds by a combination of glutamate and K(+), supporting a role for astrocytes in neurometabolic and neurovascular coupling in the brain. It was also possible to make a direct comparison of metabolism in neurons and astrocytes lying in close proximity, paving the way to a high-resolution characterization of brain energy metabolism. Single-cell glycolytic rates were also measured in fibroblasts, adipocytes, myoblasts, and tumor cells, showing higher rates for undifferentiated cells and significant metabolic heterogeneity within cell types. This method should facilitate the investigation of tissue metabolism at the single-cell level and is readily adaptable for high-throughput analysis.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fnene.2010.00026

    View details for PubMedID 20890447

  • Feedback Inhibition of Ammonium Uptake by a Phospho-Dependent Allosteric Mechanism in Arabidopsis PLANT CELL Lanquar, V., Loque, D., Hoermann, F., Yuan, L., Bohner, A., Engelsberger, W. R., Lalonde, S., Schulze, W. X., von Wiren, N., Frommer, W. B. 2009; 21 (11): 3610-3622


    The acquisition of nutrients requires tight regulation to ensure optimal supply while preventing accumulation to toxic levels. Ammonium transporter/methylamine permease/rhesus (AMT/Mep/Rh) transporters are responsible for ammonium acquisition in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The ammonium transporter AMT1;1 from Arabidopsis thaliana uses a novel regulatory mechanism requiring the productive interaction between a trimer of subunits for function. Allosteric regulation is mediated by a cytosolic C-terminal trans-activation domain, which carries a conserved Thr (T460) in a critical position in the hinge region of the C terminus. When expressed in yeast, mutation of T460 leads to inactivation of the trimeric complex. This study shows that phosphorylation of T460 is triggered by ammonium in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Neither Gln nor l-methionine sulfoximine-induced ammonium accumulation were effective in inducing phosphorylation, suggesting that roots use either the ammonium transporter itself or another extracellular sensor to measure ammonium concentrations in the rhizosphere. Phosphorylation of T460 in response to an increase in external ammonium correlates with inhibition of ammonium uptake into Arabidopsis roots. Thus, phosphorylation appears to function in a feedback loop restricting ammonium uptake. This novel autoregulatory mechanism is capable of tuning uptake capacity over a wide range of supply levels using an extracellular sensory system, potentially mediated by a transceptor (i.e., transporter and receptor).

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.109.068593

    View details for Web of Science ID 000273235600018

    View details for PubMedID 19948793

  • Pore Mutations in Ammonium Transporter AMT1 with Increased Electrogenic Ammonium Transport Activity JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Loque, D., Mora, S. I., Andrade, S. L., Pantoja, O., Frommer, W. B. 2009; 284 (37): 24988-24995


    AMT/Mep ammonium transporters mediate high affinity ammonium/ammonia uptake in bacteria, fungi, and plants. The Arabidopsis AMT1 proteins mediate uptake of the ionic form of ammonium. AMT transport activity is controlled allosterically via a highly conserved cytosolic C terminus that interacts with neighboring subunits in a trimer. The C terminus is thus capable of modulating the conductivity of the pore. To gain insight into the underlying mechanism, pore mutants suppressing the inhibitory effect of mutations in the C-terminal trans-activation domain were characterized. AMT1;1 carrying the mutation Q57H in transmembrane helix I (TMH I) showed increased ammonium uptake but reduced capacity to take up methylammonium. To explore whether the transport mechanism was altered, the AMT1;1-Q57H mutant was expressed in Xenopus oocytes and analyzed electrophysiologically. AMT1;1-Q57H was characterized by increased ammonium-induced and reduced methylammonium-induced currents. AMT1;1-Q57H possesses a 100x lower affinity for ammonium (K(m)) and a 10-fold higher V(max) as compared with the wild type form. To test whether the trans-regulatory mechanism is conserved in archaeal homologs, AfAmt-2 from Archaeoglobus fulgidus was expressed in yeast. The transport function of AfAmt-2 also depends on trans-activation by the C terminus, and mutations in pore-residues corresponding to Q57H of AMT1;1 suppress nonfunctional AfAmt-2 mutants lacking the activating C terminus. Altogether, our data suggest that bacterial and plant AMTs use a conserved allosteric mechanism to control ammonium flux, potentially using a gating mechanism that limits flux to protect against ammonium toxicity.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M109.020842

    View details for Web of Science ID 000269734000034

    View details for PubMedID 19581303

  • Osmotic induction of calcium accumulation in human embryonic kidney cells detected with a high sensitivity FRET calcium sensor CELL CALCIUM Hou, B., Takanaga, H., Griesbeck, O., Frommer, W. B. 2009; 46 (2): 130-135


    Calcium serves as a second messenger in glucose-triggered insulin secretion of pancreatic cells. Less is known about sugar signaling in non-excitable cells. Here, the high sensitivity FRET calcium sensor TN-XXL was used to characterize glucose-induced calcium responses in non-excitable human embryonic kidney HEK293T cells. HEK293T cells responded to perfusion with glucose with a sustained and concentration-dependent increase in cytosolic calcium levels. Sucrose and mannitol triggered comparable calcium responses, suggesting that the increase of the calcium concentration was caused by osmotic effects. HEK293T cells are characterized by low endogenous glucose uptake capacity as shown with a high sensitivity glucose sensor. Consistently, when glucose influx was artificially increased by co-expression of GLUT glucose transporters, the glucose-induced calcium increase was significantly reduced. Neither calcium depletion, nor gadolinium or thapsigargin were able to inhibit the calcium accumulation. Taken together, membrane impermeable osmolytes such as sucrose and mannitol lead to an increase in calcium levels, while the effect of glucose depends on the cell's glucose uptake capacity and will thus vary between cell types in the body that differ in their glucose uptake capacity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ceca.2009.06.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000269734600006

    View details for PubMedID 19628278

  • Evaluating the function of putative hormone transporters. Plant signaling & behavior Frommer, W. B., Schulz, B., Murphy, A. S. 2009; 4 (2): 147-148


    Hormones typically serve as long distance signaling molecules. To reach their site of action, hormones need to be transported from the sites of synthesis. Many plant hormones are mobile, thus requiring specific transport systems for the export from their source cells as well as subsequent import into target cells. Hormone transport in general is still poorly understood. Auxin is probably the most intensively studied plant hormone concerning transport in the moment. To advance our understanding of hormone transport we need two principal data sets: information on the properties of the transport systems including substrate specificity and kinetics, and we need to identify candidate genes for the respective transporters. Physiological transport data can provide an important basis for identifying and characterizing candidate transporters and to define their in vivo role. A recent publication in Plant Physiology highlights how kinetic and specificity studies may help to identify cytokinin transporters.

    View details for PubMedID 19649195

  • Genetically encoded biosensors based on engineered fluorescent proteins CHEMICAL SOCIETY REVIEWS Frommer, W. B., Davidson, M. W., Campbell, R. E. 2009; 38 (10): 2833-2841


    Fluorescent proteins have revolutionized cell biology by allowing researchers to non-invasively peer into the inner workings of cells and organisms. While the most common applications of fluorescent proteins are to image expression, localization, and dynamics of protein chimeras, there is a growing interest in using fluorescent proteins to create biosensors for minimally invasive imaging of concentrations of ions and small molecules, the activity of enzymes, and changes in the conformation of proteins in living cells. This tutorial review provides an overview of the progress made in the development of fluorescent protein-based biosensors to date.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/b907749a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000270032900003

    View details for PubMedID 19771330

  • Comparison of quantitative metabolite imaging tools and carbon-13 techniques for fluxomics. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) Niittylae, T., Chaudhuri, B., Sauer, U., Frommer, W. B. 2009; 553: 355-372


    The recent development of analytic technologies allows fast analysis of metabolism in real time. Fluxomics aims to define the genes involved in regulation of flux through a metabolic or signaling pathway. Flux through a metabolic or signaling pathway is determined by the activity of its individual components; regulation can occur at many levels, including transcriptional, posttranslational, and allosteric levels. Currently two technologies are used to monitor fluxes. The first is pulse labeling of the organism with a tracer such as C13, followed by mass spectrometric analysis of the partitioning of label into different compounds. The second approach is based on the use of flux sensors, proteins that respond with a conformational change to ligand binding. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) detects the conformational change and serves as a proxy for ligand concentration. Both methods provide high time resolution. In contrast to mass spectrometry assays, FRET nanosensors monitor only a single compound, but the advantage of FRET nanosensors is that they yield data with cellular and subcellular resolution.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/978-1-60327-563-7_19

    View details for PubMedID 19588116

  • Mendel's bequest advanced the understanding of regulatory systems for controlling sugar supply to developing plant embryos JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2009; 60 (1): 1-3

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jxb/ern358

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263408600001

    View details for PubMedID 19213720

  • Plasma membrane microdomains regulate turnover of transport proteins in yeast JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Grossmann, G., Malinsky, J., Stahlschmidt, W., Loibl, M., Weig-Meckl, I., Frommer, W. B., Opekarova, M., Tanner, W. 2008; 183 (6): 1075-1088


    In this study, we investigate whether the stable segregation of proteins and lipids within the yeast plasma membrane serves a particular biological function. We show that 21 proteins cluster within or associate with the ergosterol-rich membrane compartment of Can1 (MCC). However, proteins of the endocytic machinery are excluded from MCC. In a screen, we identified 28 genes affecting MCC appearance and found that genes involved in lipid biosynthesis and vesicle transport are significantly overrepresented. Deletion of Pil1, a component of eisosomes, or of Nce102, an integral membrane protein of MCC, results in the dissipation of all MCC markers. These deletion mutants also show accelerated endocytosis of MCC-resident permeases Can1 and Fur4. Our data suggest that release from MCC makes these proteins accessible to the endocytic machinery. Addition of arginine to wild-type cells leads to a similar redistribution and increased turnover of Can1. Thus, MCC represents a protective area within the plasma membrane to control turnover of transport proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.200806035

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261783100013

    View details for PubMedID 19064668

  • Protonophore- and pH-insensitive glucose and sucrose accumulation detected by FRET nanosensors in Arabidopsis root tips PLANT JOURNAL Chaudhuri, B., Hoermann, F., Lalonde, S., Brady, S. M., Orlando, D. A., Benfey, P., Frommer, W. B. 2008; 56 (6): 948-962


    Although soil contains only traces of soluble carbohydrates, plant roots take up glucose and sucrose efficiently when supplied in artificial media. Soluble carbohydrates and other small metabolites found in soil are in part products from exudation from plant roots. The molecular nature of the transporters for uptake and exudation is unknown. Here, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) glucose and sucrose sensors were used to characterize accumulation and elimination of glucose and sucrose in Arabidopsis roots tips. Using an improved image acquisition set-up, FRET responses to perfusion with carbohydrates were detectable in roots within less than 10 sec and over a wide concentration range. Accumulation was fully reversible within 10-180 sec after glucose or sucrose had been withdrawn; elimination may be caused by metabolism and/or efflux. The rate of elimination was unaffected by pre-incubation with high concentrations of glucose, suggesting that elimination is not due to accumulation in a short-term buffer such as the vacuole. Glucose and sucrose accumulation was insensitive to protonophores, was comparable in media differing in potassium levels, and was similar at pH 5.8, 6.8 and 7.8, suggesting that both influx and efflux may be mediated by proton-independent transport systems. High-resolution expression mapping in root tips showed that only a few proton-dependent transport of the STP (Sugar Transport Protein) and SUT/SUC (Sucrose Transporter/Carrier) families are expressed in the external cell layers of root tips. The root expression maps may help to pinpoint candidate genes for uptake and release of carbohydrates from roots.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03652.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261530800008

    View details for PubMedID 18702670

  • Characterization of Cytokinin and Adenine Transport in Arabidopsis Cell Cultures PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Cedzich, A., Stransky, H., Schulz, B., Frommer, W. B. 2008; 148 (4): 1857-1867


    Cytokinins are distributed through the vascular system and trigger responses of target cells via receptor-mediated signal transduction. Perception and transduction of the signal can occur at the plasma membrane or in the cytosol. The signal is terminated by the action of extra- or intracellular cytokinin oxidases. While radiotracer studies have been used to study transport and metabolism of cytokinins in plants, little is known about the kinetic properties of cytokinin transport. To provide a reference dataset, radiolabeled trans-zeatin (tZ) was used for uptake studies in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) cell culture. Uptake kinetics of tZ are multiphasic, indicating the presence of both low- and high-affinity transport systems. The protonophore carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone is an effective inhibitor of cytokinin uptake, consistent with H(+)-mediated uptake. Other physiological cytokinins, such as isopentenyl adenine and benzylaminopurine, are effective competitors of tZ uptake, whereas allantoin has no inhibitory effect. Adenine competes for zeatin uptake, indicating that the degradation product of cytokinin oxidases is transported by the same systems. Comparison of adenine and tZ uptake in Arabidopsis seedlings reveals similar uptake kinetics. Kinetic properties, as well as substrate specificity determined in cell cultures, are compatible with the hypothesis that members of the plant-specific purine permease family play a role in adenine transport for scavenging extracellular adenine and may, in addition, be involved in low-affinity cytokinin uptake.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.108.128454

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261501500011

    View details for PubMedID 18835995

  • Introns control expression of sucrose transporter LeSUT1 in trichomes, companion cells and in guard cells PLANT MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Weise, A., Lalonde, S., Kuehn, C., Frommer, W. B., Ward, J. M. 2008; 68 (3): 251-262


    In solanaceous plants such as tomato and tobacco, the sucrose transporter SUT1 is crucial for phloem loading. Using GUS as a reporter, the promoter and other regulatory cis elements required for the tomato LeSUT1 expression were analyzed by heterologous expression of translational chimeric constructs in tobacco. Although LeSUT1 is highly expressed at the RNA level, GUS expression under the control of a 1.8 kb LeSUT1 promoter resulted in few plants expressing GUS. In GUS-positive transformants, expression levels were low and limited to leaf phloem. Increasing or decreasing the length of LeSUT1 promoter did not lead to a significant increase in positive transformants or higher expression levels. Translational fusion of GUS to the LeSUT1 C-terminus in a construct containing all exons and introns and the 3'-UTR led to a higher number of positive transformants and many plants with high GUS activity. LeSUT1 expression was detected in ab- and adaxial phloem companion cells, trichomes and guard cells. The role of individual introns in LeSUT1 expression was further analyzed by placing each LeSUT1 intron into the 5'-UTR within the 2.3 kb LeSUT1 promoter construct. Results showed remarkable functions for the three introns for SUT1 expression in trichomes, guard cells and phloem cells. Intron 3 is responsible for expression in trichomes, whereas intron 2 is necessary for expression in companion cells and guard cells. The combination of all introns is required for the full expression pattern in phloem, guard cells and trichomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11103-008-9366-9

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258657800005

    View details for PubMedID 18597047

  • Fluorescence resonance energy transfer sensors for quantitative monitoring of pentose and disaccharide accumulation in bacteria BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS Kaper, T., Lager, I., Looger, L. L., Chermak, D., Frommer, W. B. 2008; 1


    Engineering microorganisms to improve metabolite flux requires detailed knowledge of the concentrations and flux rates of metabolites and metabolic intermediates in vivo. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer sensors represent a promising technology for measuring metabolite levels and corresponding rate changes in live cells. These sensors have been applied successfully in mammalian and plant cells but potentially could also be used to monitor steady-state levels of metabolites in microorganisms using fluorimetric assays. Sensors for hexose and pentose carbohydrates could help in the development of fermentative microorganisms, for example, for biofuels applications. Arabinose is one of the carbohydrates to be monitored during biofuels production from lignocellulose, while maltose is an important degradation product of starch that is relevant for starch-derived biofuels production.An Escherichia coli expression vector compatible with phage lambda recombination technology was constructed to facilitate sensor construction and was used to generate a novel fluorescence resonance energy transfer sensor for arabinose. In parallel, a strategy for improving the sensor signal was applied to construct an improved maltose sensor. Both sensors were expressed in the cytosol of E. coli and sugar accumulation was monitored using a simple fluorimetric assay of E. coli cultures in microtiter plates. In the case of both nanosensors, the addition of the respective ligand led to concentration-dependent fluorescence resonance energy transfer responses allowing quantitative analysis of the intracellular sugar levels at given extracellular supply levels as well as accumulation rates.The nanosensor destination vector combined with the optimization strategy for sensor responses should help to accelerate the development of metabolite sensors. The new carbohydrate fluorescence resonance energy transfer sensors can be used for in vivo monitoring of sugar levels in prokaryotes, demonstrating the potential of such sensors as reporter tools in the development of metabolically engineered microbial strains or for real-time monitoring of intracellular metabolite during fermentation.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1754-6834-1-11

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272005000001

    View details for PubMedID 18522753

  • GLUT1 and GLUT9 as major contributors to glucose influx in HepG2 cells identified by a high sensitivity intramolecular FRET glucose sensor BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOMEMBRANES Takanaga, H., Chaudhuri, B., Frommer, W. B. 2008; 1778 (4): 1091-1099


    Genetically encoded FRET glucose nanosensors have proven to be useful for imaging glucose flux in HepG2 cells. However, the dynamic range of the original sensor was limited and thus it did not appear optimal for high throughput screening of siRNA populations for identifying proteins involved in regulation of sugar flux. Here we describe a hybrid approach that combines linker-shortening with fluorophore-insertion to decrease the degrees of freedom for fluorophore positioning leading to improved nanosensor dynamics. We were able to develop a novel highly sensitive FRET nanosensor that shows a 10-fold higher ratio change and dynamic range (0.05-11 mM) in vivo, permitting analyses in the physiologically relevant range. As a proof of concept that this sensor can be used to screen for proteins playing a role in sugar flux and its control, we used siRNA inhibition of GLUT family members and show that GLUT1 is the major glucose transporter in HepG2 cells and that GLUT9 contributes as well, however to a lower extent. GFP fusions suggest that GLUT1 and 9 are preferentially localized to the plasma membrane and thus can account for the transport activity. The improved sensitivity of the novel glucose nanosensor increases the reliability of in vivo glucose flux analyses, and provides a new means for the screening of siRNA collections as well as drugs using high-content screens.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbamem.2007.11.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000255228000030

    View details for PubMedID 18177733

  • Imaging of glutamate in brain slices using FRET sensors JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE METHODS Dulla, C., Tani, H., Okumoto, S., Frommer, W. B., Reimer, R. J., Fluguenard, J. R. 2008; 168 (2): 306-319


    The neurotransmitter glutamate is the mediator of excitatory neurotransmission in the brain. Release of this signaling molecule is carefully controlled by multiple mechanisms, yet the methods available to measure released glutamate have been limited in spatial and/or temporal domains. We have developed a novel technique to visualize glutamate release in brain slices using three purified fluorescence (Forster) energy resonance transfer (FRET)-based glutamate sensor proteins. Using a simple loading protocol, the FRET sensor proteins diffuse deeply into the extracellular space and remain functional for many tens of minutes. This allows imaging of glutamate release in brain slices with simultaneous electrophysiological recordings and provides temporal and spatial resolution not previously possible. Using this glutamate FRET sensor loading and imaging protocol, we show that changes in network excitability and glutamate re-uptake alter evoked glutamate transients and produce correlated changes in evoked-cortical field potentials. Given the sophisticated advantages of brain slices for electrophysiological and imaging protocols, the ability to perform real-time imaging of glutamate in slices should lead to key insights in brain function relevant to plasticity, development and pathology. This technique also provides a unique assay of network activity that compliments alternative techniques such as voltage-sensitive dyes and multi-electrode arrays.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2007.10.017

    View details for Web of Science ID 000253824400004

    View details for PubMedID 18160134

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2267481

  • Molecular and cellular approaches for the detection of protein-protein interactions: latest techniques and current limitations PLANT JOURNAL Lalonde, S., Ehrhardt, D. W., Loque, D., Chen, J., Rhee, S. Y., Frommer, W. B. 2008; 53 (4): 610-635


    Homotypic and heterotypic protein interactions are crucial for all levels of cellular function, including architecture, regulation, metabolism, and signaling. Therefore, protein interaction maps represent essential components of post-genomic toolkits needed for understanding biological processes at a systems level. Over the past decade, a wide variety of methods have been developed to detect, analyze, and quantify protein interactions, including surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, NMR, yeast two-hybrid screens, peptide tagging combined with mass spectrometry and fluorescence-based technologies. Fluorescence techniques range from co-localization of tags, which may be limited by the optical resolution of the microscope, to fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based methods that have molecular resolution and can also report on the dynamics and localization of the interactions within a cell. Proteins interact via highly evolved complementary surfaces with affinities that can vary over many orders of magnitude. Some of the techniques described in this review, such as surface plasmon resonance, provide detailed information on physical properties of these interactions, while others, such as two-hybrid techniques and mass spectrometry, are amenable to high-throughput analysis using robotics. In addition to providing an overview of these methods, this review emphasizes techniques that can be applied to determine interactions involving membrane proteins, including the split ubiquitin system and fluorescence-based technologies for characterizing hits obtained with high-throughput approaches. Mass spectrometry-based methods are covered by a review by Miernyk and Thelen (2008; this issue, pp. 597-609). In addition, we discuss the use of interaction data to construct interaction networks and as the basis for the exciting possibility of using to predict interaction surfaces.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2007.03332.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252931800002

    View details for PubMedID 18269572

  • Phosphate sensing by fluorescent reporter proteins embedded in polyacrylamide nanoparticles ACS NANO Sun, H., Scharff-Poulsen, A. M., Gu, H., Jakobsen, I., Kossmann, J. M., Frommer, W. B., Almdal, K. 2008; 2 (1): 19-24


    Phosphate sensors were developed by embedding fluorescent reporter proteins (FLIPPi) in polyacrylamide nanoparticles with diameters from 40 to 120 nm. The sensor activity and protein loading efficiency varied according to nanoparticle composition, that is, the total monomer content (% T) and the cross-linker content (% C). Nanoparticles with 28% T and 20% C were considered optimal as a result of relatively high loading efficiency (50.6%) as well as high protein activity (50%). The experimental results prove that the cross-linked polyacrylamide matrix could protect FLIPPi from degradation by soluble proteases to some extent. This nanoparticle embedding method provides a novel promising tool for in vivo metabolite studies. It also demonstrates a universal method for embedding different fragile bioactive elements, such as antibodies, genes, enzymes, and other functional proteins, in nanoparticles for, for example, sensing, biological catalysis, and gene delivery.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nn700166x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252515900004

    View details for PubMedID 19206543

  • Quantitative imaging for discovery and assembly of the metabo-regulome NEW PHYTOLOGIST Okumoto, S., Takanaga, H., Frommer, W. B. 2008; 180 (2): 271-295


    Little is known about regulatory networks that control metabolic flux in plant cells. Detailed understanding of regulation is crucial for synthetic biology. The difficulty of measuring metabolites with cellular and subcellular precision is a major roadblock. New tools have been developed for monitoring extracellular, cytosolic, organellar and vacuolar ion and metabolite concentrations with a time resolution of milliseconds to hours. Genetically encoded sensors allow quantitative measurement of steady-state concentrations of ions, signaling molecules and metabolites and their respective changes over time. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors exploit conformational changes in polypeptides as a proxy for analyte concentrations. Subtle effects of analyte binding on the conformation of the recognition element are translated into a FRET change between two fused green fluorescent protein (GFP) variants, enabling simple monitoring of analyte concentrations using fluorimetry or fluorescence microscopy. Fluorimetry provides information averaged over cell populations, while microscopy detects differences between cells or populations of cells. The genetically encoded sensors can be targeted to subcellular compartments or the cell surface. Confocal microscopy ultimately permits observation of gradients or local differences within a compartment. The FRET assays can be adapted to high-throughput analysis to screen mutant populations in order to systematically identify signaling networks that control individual steps in metabolic flux.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02611.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000259526300006

    View details for PubMedID 19138219

  • Addressing the need for alternative transportation fuels: The joint BioEnergy institute ACS CHEMICAL BIOLOGY Blanch, H. W., Adams, P. D., Andrews-Cramer, K. M., Frommer, W. B., Simmons, B. A., Keasling, J. D. 2008; 3 (1): 17-20

    View details for DOI 10.1021/cb700267s

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252515200010

    View details for PubMedID 18205287

  • Nanosensor detection of an immunoregulatory tryptophan influx/kynurenine efflux cycle PLOS BIOLOGY Kaper, T., Looger, L. L., Takanaga, H., Platten, M., Steinman, L., Frommer, W. B. 2007; 5 (10): 2201-2210


    Mammalian cells rely on cellular uptake of the essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan sequestration by up-regulation of the key enzyme for tryptophan degradation, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), e.g., in cancer and inflammation, is thought to suppress the immune response via T cell starvation. Additionally, the excreted tryptophan catabolites (kynurenines) induce apoptosis of lymphocytes. Whereas tryptophan transport systems have been identified, the molecular nature of kynurenine export remains unknown. To measure cytosolic tryptophan steady-state levels and flux in real time, we developed genetically encoded fluorescence resonance energy transfer nanosensors (FLIPW). The transport properties detected by FLIPW in KB cells, a human oral cancer cell line, and COS-7 cells implicate LAT1, a transporter that is present in proliferative tissues like cancer, in tryptophan uptake. Importantly, we found that this transport system mediates tryptophan/kynurenine exchange. The tryptophan influx/kynurenine efflux cycle couples tryptophan starvation to elevation of kynurenine serum levels, providing a two-pronged induction of apoptosis in neighboring cells. The strict coupling protects cells that overproduce IDO from kynurenine accumulation. Consequently, this mechanism may contribute to immunosuppression involved in autoimmunity and tumor immune escape.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050257

    View details for Web of Science ID 000251072700011

    View details for PubMedID 17896864

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1988858

  • Temporal analysis of sucrose-induced phosphorylation changes in plasma membrane proteins of Arabidopsis MOLECULAR & CELLULAR PROTEOMICS Niittylae, T., Fuglsang, A. T., Palmgren, M. G., Frommer, W. B., Schulze, W. X. 2007; 6 (10): 1711-1726


    Sucrose is the main product of photosynthesis and the most common transport form of carbon in plants. In addition, sucrose is a compound that serves as a signal affecting metabolic flux and development. Here we provide first results of externally induced phosphorylation changes of plasma membrane proteins in Arabidopsis. In an unbiased approach, seedlings were grown in liquid medium with sucrose and then depleted of carbon before sucrose was resupplied. Plasma membranes were purified, and phosphopeptides were enriched and subsequently analyzed quantitatively by mass spectrometry. In total, 67 phosphopeptides were identified, most of which were quantified over five time points of sucrose resupply. Among the identified phosphorylation sites, the well described phosphorylation site at the C terminus of plasma membrane H(+)-ATPases showed a relative increase in phosphorylation level in response to sucrose. This corresponded to a significant increase of proton pumping activity of plasma membrane vesicles from sucrose-supplied seedlings. A new phosphorylation site was identified in the plasma membrane H(+)-ATPase AHA1 and/or AHA2. This phosphorylation site was shown to be crucial for ATPase activity and overrode regulation via the well known C-terminal phosphorylation site. Novel phosphorylation sites were identified for both receptor kinases and cytosolic kinases that showed rapid increases in relative intensities after short times of sucrose treatment. Seven response classes were identified including non-responsive, rapid increase (within 3 min), slow increase, and rapid decrease. Relative quantification of phosphorylation changes by phosphoproteomics provides a means for identification of fast responses to external stimuli in plants as a basis for further functional characterization.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/mcp.M700164-MCP200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250092600005

    View details for PubMedID 17586839

  • Fluxomics: mass spectrometry versus quantitative imaging CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY Wiechert, W., Schweissgut, O., Takanaga, H., Frommer, W. B. 2007; 10 (3): 323-330


    The recent development of analytic high-throughput technologies enables us to take a bird's view of how metabolism is regulated in real time. We have known for a long time that metabolism is highly regulated at all levels, including transcriptional, posttranslational and allosteric controls. Flux through a metabolic or signaling pathway is determined by the activity of its individual components. Fluxomics aims to define the genes involved in regulation by following the flux. Two technologies are used to monitor fluxes. Pulse labeling of the organism or cell with a tracer, such as 13C, followed by mass spectrometric analysis of the partitioning of label into different compounds provides an efficient tool to study flux and to compare the effect of mutations on flux. The second approach is based on the use of flux sensors, proteins that respond with a conformational change to ligand binding. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) detects the conformational change and serves as a proxy for ligand concentration. In contrast to the mass spectrometry assays, FRET nanosensors monitor only a single compound. Both methods provide high time resolution. The major advantages of FRET nanosensors are that they yield data with cellular and subcellular resolution and the method is minimally invasive.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pbi.2007.04.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000247197600016

    View details for PubMedID 17481942

  • A cytosolic trans-activation domain essential for ammonium uptake NATURE Loque, D., Lalonde, S., Looger, L. L., von Wiren, N., Frommer, W. B. 2007; 446 (7132): 195-198


    Polytopic membrane proteins are essential for cellular uptake and release of nutrients. To prevent toxic accumulation, rapid shut-off mechanisms are required. Here we show that the soluble cytosolic carboxy terminus of an oligomeric ammonium transporter from Arabidopsis thaliana serves as an allosteric regulator essential for function; mutations in the C-terminal domain, conserved between bacteria, fungi and plants, led to loss of transport activity. When co-expressed with intact transporters, mutants inactivated functional subunits, but left their stability unaffected. Co-expression of two inactive transporters, one with a defective pore, the other with an ablated C terminus, reconstituted activity. The crystal structure of an Archaeoglobus fulgidus ammonium transporter (AMT) suggests that the C terminus interacts physically with cytosolic loops of the neighbouring subunit. Phosphorylation of conserved sites in the C terminus are proposed as the cognate control mechanism. Conformational coupling between monomers provides a mechanism for tight regulation, for increasing the dynamic range of sensing and memorizing prior events, and may be a general mechanism for transporter regulation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature05579

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244718100042

    View details for PubMedID 17293878

  • Fluxomics with ratiometric metabolite dyes. Plant signaling & behavior Chaudhuri, B., Niittylä, T., Hörmann, F., Frommer, W. B. 2007; 2 (2): 120-122


    Today's major excitement in biology centers on signaling: How can a cell or organism measure the myriad of environmental cues, integrate it, and acclimate to the new conditions? Hormonal signals and second messengers are in the focus of most of these studies, e.g., regulation of glucose transporter GLUT4 cycling by insulin, or regulation of plant growth by auxin or brassinosteroids.1-3 In comparison, we generally assume that we know almost everything about basic metabolism since it has been studied for many decades; for example we know since the early 80s that allosteric regulation by fructose-2,6-bisphophate plays an important role in regulating glycolysis in plants and animals.4 This may be the reason why studies of metabolism appear to be a bit out of fashion. But if we look to other organisms such as E. coli or yeast, we rapidly realize that metabolism is controlled by complex interconnected signaling networks, and that we understand little of these signaling networks in humans and plants.5,6 As it turns out, the cell registers many metabolites, and flux through the pathways is regulated using complex signaling networks that involve calcium as well as hormones.

    View details for PubMedID 19704755

  • Nitrogen-dependent posttranscriptional regulation of the ammonium transporter AtAMT1;1 PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Yuan, L., Loque, D., Ye, F., Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 2007; 143 (2): 732-744


    Ammonium transporter (AMT) proteins of the AMT family mediate the transport of ammonium across plasma membranes. To investigate whether AMTs are regulated at the posttranscriptional level, a gene construct consisting of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter driving the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) AMT1;1 gene was introduced into tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). Ectopic expression of AtAMT1;1 in transgenic tobacco lines led to high transcript levels and protein levels at the plasma membrane and translated into an approximately 30% increase in root uptake capacity for 15N-labeled ammonium in hydroponically grown transgenic plants. When ammonium was supplied as the major nitrogen (N) form but at limiting amounts to soil-grown plants, transgenic lines overexpressing AtAMT1;1 did not show enhanced growth or N acquisition relative to wild-type plants. Surprisingly, steady-state transcript levels of AtAMT1;1 accumulated to higher levels in N-deficient roots and shoots of transgenic tobacco plants in spite of expression being controlled by the constitutive 35S promoter. Moreover, steady-state transcript levels were decreased after addition of ammonium or nitrate in N-deficient roots, suggesting a role for N availability in regulating AtAMT1;1 transcript abundance. Nitrogen deficiency-dependent accumulation of AtAMT1;1 mRNA was also observed in 35S:AtAMT1;1-transformed Arabidopsis shoots but not in roots. Evidence for a regulatory role of the 3'-untranslated region of AtAMT1;1 alone in N-dependent transcript accumulation was not found. However, transcript levels of AtAMT1;3 did not accumulate in a N-dependent manner, even though the same T-DNA insertion line atamt1;1-1 was used for 35S:AtAMT1;3 expression. These results show that the accumulation of AtAMT1;1 transcripts is regulated in a N- and organ-dependent manner and suggest mRNA turnover as an additional mechanism for the regulation of AtAMT1;1 in response to the N nutritional status of plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.106.093237

    View details for Web of Science ID 000244032400018

    View details for PubMedID 17172286

  • Comparative studies on Ureide Permeases in Arabidopsis thaliana and analysis of two alternative splice variants of AtUPS5 PLANTA Schmidt, A., Baumann, N., Schwarzkopf, A., Frommer, W. B., Desimone, M. 2006; 224 (6): 1329-1340


    The recovery of free purine and pyrimidine bases and their degradation products represent alternative pathways in plant cells either to synthesize nucleotides (salvage pathways) by low energy consumption or to reuse organic nitrogen. Such recycling of metabolites often requires their uptake into the cell by specialized transport systems residing in the plasma membrane. In plants, it has been suggested that several protein families are involved in this process, but only a few transporters have so far been characterized. In this work, gene expression, substrate specificities, and transport mechanisms of members of the Ureide Permease family in Arabidopsis (AtUPS) were analyzed and compared. Promoter-GUS studies indicated that the members of the family have distinct and partially overlapping expression patterns with regard to developmental stages or tissue specific localization. In addition, two alternative splice variants of AtUPS5, a novel member of the transporter family, were identified and investigated. The abundance of both alternative mRNAs varied in different organs, while the relative amounts were comparable. AtUPS5l (longer isoform) shares similar structural prediction with AtUPS1 and AtUPS2. In contrast, AtUPS5s (shorter isoform) lacks two transmembrane domains as structural consequence of the additional splice event. When expressed in yeast, AtUPS5l mediates cellular import of cyclic purine degradation products and pyrimidines similarly to AtUPS1 and AtUPS2, but differences in transport efficiencies were observed. AtUPS5s, however, could not be shown to mediate uptake of these compounds into yeast cells and might therefore be defective or have a different function.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00425-006-0315-z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000242150700008

    View details for PubMedID 16738859

  • A novel analytical method for in vivo phosphate tracking FEBS LETTERS Gu, H., Lalonde, S., Okumoto, S., Looger, L. L., Scharff-Poulsen, A. M., Grossman, A. R., Kossmann, J., Jakobsen, I., Frommer, W. B. 2006; 580 (25): 5885-5893


    Genetically-encoded fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensors for phosphate (P(i)) (FLIPPi) were engineered by fusing a predicted Synechococcus phosphate-binding protein (PiBP) to eCFP and Venus. Purified fluorescent indicator protein for inorganic phosphate (FLIPPi), in which the fluorophores are attached to the same PiBP lobe, shows P(i)-dependent increases in FRET efficiency. FLIPPi affinity mutants cover P(i) changes over eight orders of magnitude. COS-7 cells co-expressing a low-affinity FLIPPi and a Na(+)/P(i) co-transporter exhibited FRET changes when perfused with 100 microM P(i), demonstrating concentrative P(i) uptake by PiT2. FLIPPi sensors are suitable for real-time monitoring of P(i) metabolism in living cells, providing a new tool for fluxomics, analysis of pathophysiology or changes of P(i) during cell migration.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.febslet.2006.09.048

    View details for Web of Science ID 000241707100014

    View details for PubMedID 17034793

  • Conversion of a putative agrobacterium sugar-binding protein into a FRET sensor with high selectivity for sucrose JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Lager, I., Looger, L. L., Hilpert, M., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2006; 281 (41): 30875-30883


    Glucose is the main sugar transport form in animals, whereas plants use sucrose to supply non-photosynthetic organs with carbon skeletons and energy. Many aspects of sucrose transport, metabolism, and signaling are not well understood, including the route of sucrose efflux from leaf mesophyll cells and transport across vacuolar membranes. Tools that can detect sucrose with high spatial and temporal resolution in intact organs may help elucidate the players involved. Here, FRET sensors were generated by fusing putative sucrose-binding proteins to green fluorescent protein variants. Plant-associated bacteria such as Rhizobium and Agrobacterium can use sucrose as a nutrient source; sugar-binding proteins were, thus, used as scaffolds for developing sucrose nanosensors. Among a set of putative sucrose-binding protein genes cloned in between eCFP and eYFP and tested for sugar-dependent FRET changes, an Agrobacterium sugar-binding protein bound sucrose with 4 mum affinity. This FLIPsuc-4mu protein also recognized other sugars including maltose, trehalose, and turanose and, with lower efficiency, glucose and palatinose. Homology modeling enabled the prediction of binding pocket mutations to modulate the relative affinity of FLIPsuc-4mu for sucrose, maltose, and glucose. Mutant nanosensors showed up to 50- and 11-fold increases in specificity for sucrose over maltose and glucose, respectively, and the sucrose binding affinity was simultaneously decreased to allow detection in the physiological range. In addition, the signal-to-noise ratio of the sucrose nanosensor was improved by linker engineering. This novel reagent complements FLIPs for glucose, maltose, ribose, glutamate, and phosphate and will be used for analysis of sucrose-derived carbon flux in bacterial, fungal, plant, and animal cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M605257200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000241075900063

    View details for PubMedID 16912038

  • Rapid metabolism of glucose detected with FRET glucose nanosensors in epidermal cells and intact roots of Arabidopsis RNA-silencing mutants PLANT CELL Deuschle, K., Chaudhuri, B., Okumoto, S., Lager, I., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2006; 18 (9): 2314-2325


    Genetically encoded glucose nanosensors have been used to measure steady state glucose levels in mammalian cytosol, nuclei, and endoplasmic reticulum. Unfortunately, the same nanosensors in Arabidopsis thaliana transformants manifested transgene silencing and undetectable fluorescence resonance energy transfer changes. Expressing nanosensors in sgs3 and rdr6 transgene silencing mutants eliminated silencing and resulted in high fluorescence levels. To measure glucose changes over a wide range (nanomolar to millimolar), nanosensors with higher signal-to-noise ratios were expressed in these mutants. Perfusion of leaf epidermis with glucose led to concentration-dependent ratio changes for nanosensors with in vitro K(d) values of 600 microM (FLIPglu-600 microDelta13) and 3.2 mM (FLIPglu-3.2 mDelta13), but one with 170 nM K(d) (FLIPglu-170 nDelta13) showed no response. In intact roots, FLIPglu-3.2 mDelta13 gave no response, whereas FLIPglu-600 microDelta13, FLIPglu-2 microDelta13, and FLIPglu-170 nDelta13 all responded to glucose. These results demonstrate that cytosolic steady state glucose levels depend on external supply in both leaves and roots, but under the conditions tested they are lower in root versus epidermal and guard cells. Without photosynthesis and external supply, cytosolic glucose can decrease to <90 nM in root cells. Thus, observed gradients are steeper than expected, and steady state levels do not appear subject to tight homeostatic control. Nanosensor-expressing plants can be used to assess glucose flux differences between cells, invertase-mediated sucrose hydrolysis in vivo, delivery of assimilates to roots, and glucose flux in mutants affected in sugar transport, metabolism, and signaling.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.106.044073

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240463600019

    View details for PubMedID 16935985

  • Functional expression of the green fluorescent protein in the ectomycorrhizal model fungus Hebeloma cylindrosporum MYCORRHIZA Mueller, T., Benjdia, M., Avolio, M., Voigt, B., Menzel, D., Pardo, A., Frommer, W. B., Wipf, D. 2006; 16 (6): 437-442


    Hebeloma cylindrosporum is a model fungus for mycorrhizal studies because of its fast growth rate, simple nutritional requirements, and completion of its life cycle in vitro, and because it is amenable to transformation. To advance cell biological research during establishment of symbiosis, a tool that would enable the direct visualisation of fusion proteins in the different symbiotic tissues [namely, the expression of reporter genes such as Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP)] was still a missing tool. In the present study, H. cylindrosporum was transformed using Agrobacterium carrying the binary plasmid pBGgHg containing the Escherichia coli hygromycin B phosphotransferase (hph) and the EGFP genes, both under the control of the Agaricus bisporus glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase promoter. EGFP expression was successfully detected in transformants. The fluorescence was uniformly distributed in the hyphae, while no significant background signal was detected in control hyphae. The suitability of EGFP for reporter gene studies in Hebeloma cylindrosporum was demonstrated opening up new perspectives in the Hebeloma genetics.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00572-006-0060-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000240317700007

    View details for PubMedID 16912848

  • Arabidopsis LHT1 is a high-affinity transporter for cellular amino acid uptake in both root epidermis and leaf mesophyll PLANT CELL Hirner, A., Ladwig, F., Stransky, H., Okumoto, S., Keinath, M., Harms, A., Frommer, W. B., Koch, W. 2006; 18 (8): 1931-1946


    Amino acid transport in plants is mediated by at least two large families of plasma membrane transporters. Arabidopsis thaliana, a nonmycorrhizal species, is able to grow on media containing amino acids as the sole nitrogen source. Arabidopsis amino acid permease (AAP) subfamily genes are preferentially expressed in the vascular tissue, suggesting roles in long-distance transport between organs. We show that the broad-specificity, high-affinity amino acid transporter LYSINE HISTIDINE TRANSPORTER1 (LHT1), an AAP homolog, is expressed in both the rhizodermis and mesophyll of Arabidopsis. Seedlings deficient in LHT1 cannot use Glu or Asp as sole nitrogen sources because of the severe inhibition of amino acid uptake from the medium, and uptake of amino acids into mesophyll protoplasts is inhibited. Interestingly, lht1 mutants, which show growth defects on fertilized soil, can be rescued when LHT1 is reexpressed in green tissue. These findings are consistent with two major LHT1 functions: uptake in roots and supply of leaf mesophyll with xylem-derived amino acids. The capacity for amino acid uptake, and thus nitrogen use efficiency under limited inorganic N supply, is increased severalfold by LHT1 overexpression. These results suggest that LHT1 overexpression may improve the N efficiency of plant growth under limiting nitrogen, and the mutant analyses may enhance our understanding of N cycling in plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.106.041012

    View details for Web of Science ID 000239703000013

    View details for PubMedID 16816136

  • Analysis of the Arabidopsis rsr4-1/pdx1-3 mutant reveals the critical function of the PDX1 protein family in metabolism, development, and vitamin B6 biosynthesis PLANT CELL Wagner, S., Bernhardt, A., Leuendorf, J. E., Drewke, C., Lytovchenko, A., Mujahed, N., Gurgui, C., Frommer, W. B., Leistner, E., Fernie, A. R., Hellmann, H. 2006; 18 (7): 1722-1735


    Vitamin B6 represents a highly important group of compounds ubiquitous in all living organisms. It has been demonstrated to alleviate oxidative stress and in its phosphorylated form participates as a cofactor in >100 biochemical reactions. By means of a genetic approach, we have identified a novel mutant, rsr4-1 (for reduced sugar response), with aberrant root and leaf growth that requires supplementation of vitamin B6 for normal development. Cloning of the mutated gene revealed that rsr4-1 carries a point mutation in a member of the PDX1/SOR1/SNZ (for Pyridoxine biosynthesis protein 1/Singlet oxygen resistant 1/Snooze) family that leads to reduced vitamin B6 content. Consequently, metabolism is broadly altered, mainly affecting amino acid, raffinose, and shikimate contents and trichloroacetic acid cycle constituents. Yeast two-hybrid and pull-down analyses showed that Arabidopsis thaliana PDX1 proteins can form oligomers. Interestingly, the mutant form of PDX1 has severely reduced capability to oligomerize, potentially suggesting that oligomerization is important for function. In summary, our results demonstrate the critical function of the PDX1 protein family for metabolism, whole-plant development, and vitamin B6 biosynthesis in higher plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.105.036269

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238960500015

    View details for PubMedID 16766694

  • Heterologous expression of a plant uracil transporter in yeast: improvement of plasma membrane targeting in mutants of the Rsp5p ubiquitin protein ligase. Biotechnology journal Froissard, M., Belgareh-Touzé, N., Buisson, N., Desimone, M., Frommer, W. B., Haguenauer-Tsapis, R. 2006; 1 (3): 308-320


    Plasma membrane proteins involved in transport processes play a crucial role in cell physiology. On account of these properties, these molecules are ideal targets for development of new therapeutic and agronomic agents. However, these proteins are of low abundance, which limits their study. Although yeast seems ideal for expressing heterologous transporters, plasma membrane proteins are often retained in intracellular compartments. We tried to find yeast mutants potentially able to improve functional expression of a whole set of heterologous transporters. We focused on Arabidopsis thaliana ureide transporter 1 (AtUPS1), previously cloned by functional complementation in yeast. Tagged versions of AtUPS1 remain mostly trapped in the endoplasmic reticulum and were able to reach slowly the plasma membrane. In contrast, untagged AtUPS1 is rapidly delivered to plasma membrane, where it remains in stable form. Tagged and untagged versions of AtUPS1 were expressed in cells deficient in the ubiquitin ligase Rsp5p, involved in various stages of the intracellular trafficking of membrane-bound proteins. rsp5 mutants displayed improved steady state amounts of untagged and tagged versions of AtUPS1. rsp5 cells are thus powerful tools to solve the many problems inherent to heterologous expression of membrane proteins in yeast, including ER retention.

    View details for PubMedID 16897711

  • High-content metabolic imaging. Trends in Drug Discovery Looger L.L., Frommer W.B. 2006: 32-33
  • Peptide uptake in the ectomycorrhizal fungus Hebeloma cylindrosporum: characterization of two di- and tripeptide transporters (HcPTR2A and B) NEW PHYTOLOGIST Benjdia, M., Rikirsch, E., Muller, T., Morel, M., Corratge, C., Zimmermann, S., Chalot, M., Frommer, W. B., Wipf, D. 2006; 170 (2): 401-410


    Constraints on plant growth imposed by low availability of nitrogen are a characteristic feature of ecosystems dominated by ectomycorrhizal plants. Ectomycorrhizal fungi play a key role in the N nutrition of plants, allowing their host plants to access decomposition products of dead plant and animal materials. Ectomycorrhizal plants are thus able to compensate for the low availability of inorganic N in forest ecosystems. The capacity to take up peptides, as well as the transport mechanisms involved, were analysed in the ectomycorrhizal fungus Hebeloma cylindrosporum. The present study demonstrated that H. cylindrosporum mycelium was able to take up di- and tripeptides and use them as sole N source. Two peptide transporters (HcPTR2A and B) were isolated by yeast functional complementation using an H. cylindrosporum cDNA library, and were shown to mediate dipeptide uptake. Uptake capacities and expression regulation of both genes were analysed, indicating that HcPTR2A was involved in the high-efficiency peptide uptake under conditions of limited N availability, whereas HcPTR2B was expressed constitutively.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2006.01672.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000236248200021

    View details for PubMedID 16608464

  • Shining light on signaling and metabolic networks by genetically encoded biosensors CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY Lalonde, S., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 8 (6): 574-581


    Fluorescent labels have revolutionized cell biology. Signaling intermediates and metabolites can be measured in real time with subcellular spatial resolution. Most of these sensors are based on fluorescent proteins, and many report fluorescence resonance energy transfer. Because the biosensors are genetically encoded, a toolbox for addressing cell biological questions at the systems level is now available. Fluorescent biosensors are able to determine the localization of proteins and their dynamics, to reveal the cellular and subcellular localization of the respective interactions and activities, and to provide complementary data on the steady state levels of ions, metabolites, and signaling intermediates with high temporal and spatial resolution. They represent the basis for cell-based high-throughput assays that are necessary for a systems perspective on plant cell function.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pbi.2005.09.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000233231400003

    View details for PubMedID 16188489

  • Evidence for high-cavacity bidirectional glucose transport across the endoplasmic reticulum membrane by genetically encoded fluorescence resonance energy transfer nanosensors MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Fehr, M., Takanaga, H., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 25 (24): 11102-11112


    Glucose release from hepatocytes is important for maintenance of blood glucose levels. Glucose-6-phosphate phosphatase, catalyzing the final metabolic step of gluconeogenesis, faces the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen. Thus, glucose produced in the ER has to be either exported from the ER into the cytosol before release into circulation or exported directly by a vesicular pathway. To measure ER transport of glucose, fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based nanosensors were targeted to the cytosol or the ER lumen of HepG2 cells. During perfusion with 5 mM glucose, cytosolic levels were maintained at approximately 80% of the external supply, indicating that plasma membrane transport exceeded the rate of glucose phosphorylation. Glucose levels and kinetics inside the ER were indistinguishable from cytosolic levels, suggesting rapid bidirectional glucose transport across the ER membrane. A dynamic model incorporating rapid bidirectional ER transport yields a very good fit with the observed kinetics. Plasma membrane and ER membrane glucose transport differed regarding sensitivity to cytochalasin B and showed different relative kinetics for galactose uptake and release, suggesting catalysis by distinct activities at the two membranes. The presence of a high-capacity glucose transport system on the ER membrane is consistent with the hypothesis that glucose export from hepatocytes occurs via the cytosol by a yet-to-be-identified set of proteins.

    View details for DOI 10.1128/MCB.25.24.11102-11112.2005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000233762200037

    View details for PubMedID 16314530

  • Construction and optimization of a family of genetically encoded metabolite sensors by semirational protein engineering PROTEIN SCIENCE Deuschle, K., Okumoto, S., Fehr, M., Looger, L. L., Kozhukh, L., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 14 (9): 2304-2314


    A family of genetically-encoded metabolite sensors has been constructed using bacterial periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs) linearly fused to protein fluorophores. The ligand-induced conformational change in a PBP allosterically regulates the relative distance and orientation of a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-compatible protein pair. Ligand binding is transduced into a macroscopic FRET observable, providing a reagent for in vitro and in vivo ligand-measurement and visualization. Sensors with a higher FRET signal change are required to expand the dynamic range and allow visualization of subtle analyte changes under high noise conditions. Various observations suggest that factors other than inter-fluorophore separation contribute to FRET transfer efficiency and the resulting ligand-dependent spectral changes. Empirical and rational protein engineering leads to enhanced allosteric linkage between ligand binding and chromophore rearrangement; modifications predicted to decrease chromophore rotational averaging enhance the signal change, emphasizing the importance of the rotational freedom parameter kappa2 to FRET efficiency. Tighter allosteric linkage of the PBP and the fluorophores by linker truncation or by insertion of chromophores into the binding protein at rationally designed sites gave rise to sensors with improved signal change. High-response sensors were obtained with fluorescent proteins attached to the same binding PBP lobe, suggesting that indirect allosteric regulation during the hinge-bending motion is sufficient to give rise to a FRET response. The optimization of sensors for glucose and glutamate, ligands of great clinical interest, provides a general framework for the manipulation of ligand-dependent allosteric signal transduction mechanisms.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000231607500012

    View details for PubMedID 16131659

  • Detection of glutamate release from neurons by genetically encoded surface-displayed FRET nanosensors PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Okumoto, S., Looger, L. L., Micheva, K. D., Reimer, R. J., Smith, S. J., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 102 (24): 8740-8745


    Glutamate is the predominant excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain. Once released, its rapid removal from the synaptic cleft is critical for preventing excitotoxicity and spillover to neighboring synapses. Despite consensus on the role of glutamate in normal and disease physiology, technical issues limit our understanding of its metabolism in intact cells. To monitor glutamate levels inside and at the surface of living cells, genetically encoded nanosensors were developed. The fluorescent indicator protein for glutamate (FLIPE) consists of the glutamate/aspartate binding protein ybeJ from Escherichia coli fused to two variants of the green fluorescent protein. Three sensors with lower affinities for glutamate were created by mutation of residues peristeric to the ybeJ binding pocket. In the presence of ligands, FLIPEs show a concentration-dependent decrease in FRET efficiency. When expressed on the surface of rat hippocampal neurons or PC12 cells, the sensors respond to extracellular glutamate with a reversible concentration-dependent decrease in FRET efficiency. Depolarization of neurons leads to a reduction in FRET efficiency corresponding to 300 nM glutamate at the cell surface. No change in FRET was observed when cells expressing sensors in the cytosol were superfused with up to 20 mM glutamate, consistent with a minimal contribution of glutamate uptake to cytosolic glutamate levels. The results demonstrate that FLIPE sensors can be used for real-time monitoring of glutamate metabolism in living cells, in tissues, or in intact organisms, providing tools for studying metabolism or for drug discovery.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000229807200061

    View details for PubMedID 15939876

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1143584

  • Genetically encoded FRET sensors for visualizing metabolites with subcellular resolution in living cells PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Looger, L. L., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 138 (2): 555-557

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.104.900151

    View details for Web of Science ID 000229774200007

    View details for PubMedID 15955913

  • Genetically encoded sensors for metabolites. Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology Deuschle, K., Fehr, M., Hilpert, M., Lager, I., Lalonde, S., Looger, L. L., Okumoto, S., Persson, J., Schmidt, A., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 64 (1): 3-9


    Metabolomics, i.e., the multiparallel analysis of metabolite changes occurring in a cell or an organism, has become feasible with the development of highly efficient mass spectroscopic technologies. Functional genomics as a standard tool helped to identify the function of many of the genes that encode important transporters and metabolic enzymes over the past few years. Advanced expression systems and analysis technologies made it possible to study the biochemical properties of the corresponding proteins in great detail. We begin to understand the biological functions of the gene products by systematic analysis of mutants using systematic PTGS/RNAi, knockout and TILLING approaches. However, one crucial set of data especially relevant in the case of multicellular organisms is lacking: the knowledge of the spatial and temporal profiles of metabolite levels at cellular and subcellular levels.We therefore developed genetically encoded nanosensors for several metabolites to provide a basic set of tools for the determination of cytosolic and subcellular metabolite levels in real time by using fluorescence microscopy.Prototypes of these sensors were successfully used in vitro and also in vivo, i.e., to measure sugar levels in fungal and animal cells.One of the future goals will be to expand the set of sensors to a wider spectrum of substrates by using the natural spectrum of periplasmic binding proteins from bacteria and by computational design of proteins with altered binding pockets in conjunction with mutagenesis. This toolbox can then be applied for four-dimensional imaging of cells and tissues to elucidate the spatial and temporal distribution of metabolites as a discovery tool in functional genomics, as a tool for high-throughput, high-content screening for drugs, to test metabolic models, and to analyze the interplay of cells in a tissue or organ.

    View details for PubMedID 15688353

  • Genetically encoded sensors for metabolites CYTOMETRY PART A Deuschle, K., Fehr, M., Hilpert, M., Lager, I., Lalonde, S., Looger, L. L., Okumoto, S., Persson, J., Schmidt, A., Frommer, W. B. 2005; 64A (1): 3-9
  • Development and use of fluorescent nanosensors for metabolite imaging in living cells Conference on Nutrient Sensing Through the Plasma Membrane of Eukaryotic Cells Fehr, M., Okumoto, S., Deuschle, K., Lager, I., Looger, L. L., Persson, J., Kozhukh, L., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. PORTLAND PRESS LTD. 2005: 287–290


    To understand metabolic networks, fluxes and regulation, it is crucial to be able to determine the cellular and subcellular levels of metabolites. Methods such as PET and NMR imaging have provided us with the possibility of studying metabolic processes in living organisms. However, at present these technologies do not permit measuring at the subcellular level. The cameleon, a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based nanosensor uses the ability of the calcium-bound form of calmodulin to interact with calmodulin binding polypeptides to turn the corresponding dramatic conformational change into a change in resonance energy transfer between two fluorescent proteins attached to the fusion protein. The cameleon and its derivatives were successfully used to follow calcium changes in real time not only in isolated cells, but also in living organisms. To provide a set of tools for real-time measurements of metabolite levels with subcellular resolution, protein-based nanosensors for various metabolites were developed. The metabolite nanosensors consist of two variants of the green fluorescent protein fused to bacterial periplasmic binding proteins. Different from the cameleon, a conformational change in the binding protein is directly detected as a change in FRET efficiency. The prototypes are able to detect various carbohydrates such as ribose, glucose and maltose as purified proteins in vitro. The nanosensors can be expressed in yeast and in mammalian cell cultures and were used to determine carbohydrate homeostasis in living cells with subcellular resolution. One future goal is to expand the set of sensors to cover a wider spectrum of metabolites by using the natural spectrum of bacterial periplasmic binding proteins and by computational design of the binding pockets of the prototype sensors.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000227269800081

    View details for PubMedID 15667328

  • Genetically encoded sensors for ions and metabolites 12th International Symposium on Iron Nutrition and Interactions in Plants Okumoto, S., Deuschle, K., Fehr, M., Hilpert, M., Lager, I., Lalonde, S., Looger, L. L., Persson, J., Schmidt, A., Frommer, W. B. TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD. 2004: 947–53
  • The role of Delta(1)-Pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase in proline degradation PLANT CELL Deuschle, K., Funck, D., Forlani, G., Stransky, H., Biehl, A., Leister, D., van der Graaff, E., Kunzee, R., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 16 (12): 3413-3425


    In response to stress, plants accumulate Pro, requiring degradation after release from adverse conditions. Delta1-Pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase (P5CDH), the second enzyme for Pro degradation, is encoded by a single gene expressed ubiquitously. To study the physiological function of P5CDH, T-DNA insertion mutants in AtP5CDH were isolated and characterized. Although Pro degradation was undetectable in p5cdh mutants, neither increased Pro levels nor an altered growth phenotype were observed under normal conditions. Thus AtP5CDH is essential for Pro degradation but not required for vegetative plant growth. External Pro application caused programmed cell death, with callose deposition, reactive oxygen species production, and DNA laddering, involving a salicylic acid signal transduction pathway. p5cdh mutants were hypersensitive toward Pro and other molecules producing P5C, such as Arg and Orn. Pro levels were the same in the wild type and mutants, but P5C was detectable only in p5cdh mutants, indicating that P5C accumulation may be the cause for Pro hypersensitivity. Accordingly, overexpression of AtP5CDH resulted in decreased sensitivity to externally supplied Pro. Thus, Pro and P5C/Glu semialdehyde may serve as a link between stress responses and cell death.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000225780700018

    View details for PubMedID 15548746

  • Plant biology. A plant ABC transporter takes the lotus seat. Science Schulz, B., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 306 (5696): 622-625

    View details for PubMedID 15499001

  • UPS1 and UPS2 from Arabidopsis mediate high affinity transport of uracil and 5-fluorouracil JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Schmidt, A., Su, Y. H., Kunze, R., Warner, S., Hewitt, M., Slocum, R. D., Ludewig, U., Frommer, W. B., Desimone, M. 2004; 279 (43): 44817-44824


    Salvage pathways play an important role in providing nucleobases to cells, which are unable to synthesize sufficient amounts for their needs. Cellular uptake systems for pyrimidines have been described, but in higher eukaryotes, transporters for thymine and uracil have not been identified. Two plant transporters, AtUPS1 and PvUPS1, were recently identified as transporters for allantoin in Arabidopsis and French bean, respectively. However, Arabidopsis, in contrast to tropical legumes, uses mainly amino acids for long distance transport. Allantoin transport has not been described in the Brassicaceae. Thus, the physiological substrates of ureide permease (UPS) transporters in Arabidopsis may be compounds structurally related to allantoin. A detailed analysis of the substrate specificities of two members of the AtUPS family shows that AtUPS1 and AtUPS2 mediate high affinity uracil and 5-fluorouracil (a toxic uracil analogue) transport when expressed in yeast and Xenopus oocytes. Consistent with a function during germination and early seedling development, AtUPS1 expression is transiently induced during the early stages of seedling development followed by up-regulation of AtUPS2 expression. Arabidopsis ups2 insertion mutants and ups1 lines, in which transcript levels were reduced by post-transcriptional gene silencing, are more tolerant to 5-fluorouracil as compared with wild type plants. The results suggest that in Arabidopsis UPS transporters are the main transporters for uracil and potentially other nucleobases, whereas during evolution legumes may have taken advantage of the low selectivity of UPS proteins for long distance transport of allantoin.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M405433200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000224505600071

    View details for PubMedID 15308648

  • Molecular and functional characterization of a family of amino acid transporters from arabidopsis PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Su, Y. H., Frommer, W. B., Ludewig, U. 2004; 136 (2): 3104-3113


    More than 50 distinct amino acid transporter genes have been identified in the genome of Arabidopsis, indicating that transport of amino acids across membranes is a highly complex feature in plants. Based on sequence similarity, these transporters can be divided into two major superfamilies: the amino acid transporter family and the amino acid polyamine choline transporter family. Currently, mainly transporters of the amino acid transporter family have been characterized. Here, a molecular and functional characterization of amino acid polyamine choline transporters is presented, namely the cationic amino acid transporter (CAT) subfamily. CAT5 functions as a high-affinity, basic amino acid transporter at the plasma membrane. Uptake of toxic amino acid analogs implies that neutral or acidic amino acids are preferentially transported by CAT3, CAT6, and CAT8. The expression profiles suggest that CAT5 may function in reuptake of leaking amino acids at the leaf margin, while CAT8 is expressed in young and rapidly dividing tissues such as young leaves and root apical meristem. CAT2 is localized to the tonoplast in transformed Arabidopsis protoplasts and thus may encode the long-sought vacuolar amino acid transporter.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.104.045278

    View details for Web of Science ID 000224497000020

    View details for PubMedID 15377779

  • Root phloem-specific expression of the plasma membrane amino acid proton co-transporter AAP3 JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY Okumoto, S., Koch, W., Tegeder, M., Fischer, W. N., Biehl, A., Leister, D., Stierhof, Y. D., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 55 (406): 2155-2168


    Amino acids are regarded as the nitrogen 'currency' of plants. Amino acids can be taken up from the soil directly or synthesized from inorganic nitrogen, and then circulated in the plant via phloem and xylem. AtAAP3, a member of the Amino Acid Permease (AAP) family, is mainly expressed in root tissue, suggesting a potential role in the uptake and distribution of amino acids. To determine the spatial expression pattern of AAP3, promoter-reporter gene fusions were introduced into Arabidopsis. Histochemical analysis of AAP3 promoter-GUS expressing plants revealed that AAP3 is preferentially expressed in root phloem. Expression was also detected in stamens, in cotyledons, and in major veins of some mature leaves. GFP-AAP3 fusions and epitope-tagged AAP3 were used to confirm the tissue specificity and to determine the subcellular localization of AtAAP3. When overexpressed in yeast or plant protoplasts, the functional GFP-AAP3 fusion was localized in subcellular organelle-like structures, nuclear membrane, and plasma membrane. Epitope-tagged AAP3 confirmed its localization to the plasma membrane and nuclear membrane of the phloem, consistent with the promoter-GUS study. In addition, epitope-tagged AAP3 protein was localized in endodermal cells in root tips. The intracellular localization suggests trafficking or cycling of the transporter, similar to many metabolite transporters in yeast or mammals, for example, yeast amino acid permease GAP1. Despite the specific expression pattern, knock-out mutants did not show altered phenotypes under various conditions including N-starvation. Microarray analyses revealed that the expression profile of genes involved in amino acid metabolism did not change drastically, indicating potential compensation by other amino acid transporters.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jxb/erh233

    View details for Web of Science ID 000224081500003

    View details for PubMedID 15361541

  • Live Imaging of glucose homeostasis in nuclei of COS-7 cells JOURNAL OF FLUORESCENCE Fehr, M., Lalonde, S., Ehrhardt, D. W., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 14 (5): 603-609


    Measuring subcellular glucose levels deep in tissues can provide new insights into compartmentalization and specialization of glucose metabolism among different cells. As shown previously, a FRET-based glucose-sensor consisting of two GFP-variants and the Escherichia coli periplasmic glucose/galactose binding protein was successfully expressed in the cytosol of COS7-cells and used to determine cytosolic glucose levels. Recording cytosolic fluorescence intensities in cells located in deeper layers of tissues is often difficult due to loss of signal intensity caused by effects of other cell layers on excitation and emission light. These interfering effects may be reduced by restricting fluorophores to occupy only a fraction of the assayed tissue volume. This can be accomplished by confining fluorophores to a sub-compartment of each cell in the tissue, such as the nucleus. The glucose-sensor was targeted to nuclei of COS7-cells. To determine, whether nuclear glucose levels can be used to track cytosolic changes, nuclear glucose concentrations were quantified as the cells were challenged with external glucose over a range of 0.5 to 10 mM and compared to cytosolic levels. Internal glucose concentrations in both compartments were similar, corresponding to approximately 50% of the external concentration. Taken together, these results indicate that nuclear glucose levels can be used to determine cytosolic levels indirectly, permitting more reliable quantification of fluorescence intensities and providing a tool for measurements not only in cell cultures but also in tissues.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000223515900013

    View details for PubMedID 15617267

  • K+ channel interactions detected by a genetic system optimized for systematic studies of membrane protein interactions PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Obrdlik, P., El-Bakkoury, M., Hamacher, T., Cappellaro, C., Vilarino, C., Fleischer, C., Ellerbrok, H., Kamuzinzi, R., Ledent, V., Blaudez, D., Sanders, D., Revuelta, J. L., Boles, E., Andre, B., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 101 (33): 12242-12247


    Organization of proteins into complexes is crucial for many cellular functions. However, most proteomic approaches primarily detect protein interactions for soluble proteins but are less suitable for membrane-associated complexes. Here we describe a mating-based split ubiquitin system (mbSUS) for systematic identification of interactions between membrane proteins as well as between membrane and soluble proteins. mbSUS allows in vivo cloning of PCR products into a vector set, detection of interactions via mating, regulated expression of baits, and improved selection of interacting proteins. Cloning is simplified by introduction of lambda attachment sites for GATEWAY. Homo- and heteromeric interactions between Arabidopsis K(+) channels KAT1, AKT1, and AKT2 were identified. Tests with deletion mutants demonstrate that the C terminus of KAT1 and AKT1 is necessary for physical assembly of complexes. Screening of a sorted collection of 84 plant proteins with K(+) channels as bait revealed differences in oligomerization between KAT1, AKT1, and AtKC1, and allowed detection of putative interacting partners of KAT1 and AtKC1. These results show that mbSUS is suited for systematic analysis of membrane protein interactions.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0404467101

    View details for Web of Science ID 000223410100061

    View details for PubMedID 15299147

  • Overexpression of glutamine dumper1 leads to hypersecretion of glutamine from hydathodes of Arabidopsis leaves PLANT CELL Pilot, G., Stransky, H., Bushey, D. F., Pratelli, R., Ludewig, U., Wingate, V. P., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 16 (7): 1827-1840


    Secretion is a fundamental process providing plants with the means for disposal of solutes, improvement of nutrient acquisition, and attraction of other organisms. Specific secretory organs, such as nectaries, hydathodes, and trichomes, use a combination of secretory and retrieval mechanisms, which are poorly understood at present. To study the mechanisms involved, an Arabidopsis thaliana activation tagged mutant, glutamine dumper1 (gdu1), was identified that accumulates salt crystals at the hydathodes. Chemical analysis demonstrated that, in contrast with the amino acid mixture normally present in guttation droplets, the crystals mainly contain Gln. GDU1 was cloned and found to encode a novel 17-kD protein containing a single putative transmembrane span. GDU1 is expressed in the vascular tissues and in hydathodes. Gln content is specifically increased in xylem sap and leaf apoplasm, whereas the content of several amino acids is increased in leaves and phloem sap. Selective secretion of Gln by the leaves may be explained by an enhanced release of this amino acid from cells. GDU1 study may help to shed light on the secretory mechanisms for amino acids in plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.021642

    View details for Web of Science ID 000222618000017

    View details for PubMedID 15208395

  • Minimally invasive dynamic imaging of ions and metabolites in living cells CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY Fehr, M., Ehrhardt, D. W., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 7 (3): 345-351


    By 2010, it is expected that biochemical functions will be assigned to many of the products of the approximately 30,000 Arabidopsis genes. Moreover, systematic analysis of mutants will provide insight into the biological function of the gene products. Metabolomic technologies complement these approaches by testing for changes in cellular ion and metabolite patterns, providing essential information for the construction of cellular and whole-plant models of metabolism. However, one important set of information that is especially relevant for multicellular organisms is still lacking, that is, knowledge of the cellular and subcellular variation in metabolite levels. The recent development of protein-based nanosensors for metabolites will help to close this gap by providing a set of tools that can be used to determine cytosolic and subcellular metabolite levels in real time using fluorescence-based microscopy. A major challenge for the future is the application of these nanosensors to quantify metabolite levels in plant cells and tissues.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pbi.2004.03.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000221573800016

    View details for PubMedID 15134757

  • Expression, purification and characterization of recombinant sucrose synthase 1 from Solanum tuberosum L. for carbohydrate engineering JOURNAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY Romer, U., Schrader, H., Gunther, N., Nettelstroth, N., Frommer, W. B., Elling, L. 2004; 107 (2): 135-149


    The gene sus1 from Solanum tuberosum L. encoding for sucrose synthase 1 was cloned into the plasmid pDR195 under the control of the PMA1 promotor. After transformation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain 22574d sus1 was constitutively expressed giving a specific activity of 0.3Umg(-1) protein in the crude extract. A one-step purification by Q-Sepharose resulted in an 14-fold purified enzyme preparation in 74% yield. SuSy1 was subsequently purified by immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography and characterized for its utilization in synthesizing different nucleotide sugars and sucrose analogues. The kinetic constants for the cleavage and synthesis reaction were determined: K(m) (UDP) 4microM; K(iS) (UDP) 0.11mM; K(m) (sucrose) 91.6mM; K(m) (UDP-Glc) 0.5mM; K(iS) (UDP-Glc) 2.3mM; K(m) (D-fructose) 2.1mM; K(iS) (D-fructose) 35.9mM. Different nucleoside diphosphates as well as different donor substrate were accepted as follows: UDP>dTDP>ADP>CDP>GDP in the cleavage reaction and UDP-Glc>dTDP-Glc>ADP-Glc>CDP-Glc in the synthesis reaction. SuSy1 shows also a broad acceptance of D- and L-ketoses and D- and L-aldoses. The acceptance of aldoses was deduced from the binding of the inhibitor 5-deoxy-D-fructose (K(i) 0.3mM), an analogue of the natural substrate D-fructopyranoside. The broad substrate spectrum renders SuSy1 from potato a versatile biocatalyst for carbohydrate engineering.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2003.10.017

    View details for Web of Science ID 000188203500005

    View details for PubMedID 14711497

  • Transport mechanisms for organic forms of carbon and nitrogen between source and sink ANNUAL REVIEW OF PLANT BIOLOGY Lalonde, S., Wipf, D., Frommer, W. B. 2004; 55: 341-372


    Sugars and amino acids are generated in plants by assimilation from inorganic forms. Assimilated forms cross multiple membranes on their way from production sites to storage or use locations. Specific transport systems are responsible for vacuolar uptake and release, for efflux from the cells, and for uptake into the vasculature. Detailed phylogenetic analyses suggest that only proton-coupled cotransporters involved in phloem loading have been identified to date, whereas systems for vacuolar transport and efflux still await identification. Novel imaging approaches may provide the means to characterize the cellular events and elucidate whole plant control of assimilate partitioning and allocation.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000222766000014

    View details for PubMedID 15377224

  • Fusion to GFP blocks intercellular trafficking of the sucrose transporter SUT1 leading to accumulation in companion cells. BMC plant biology Lalonde, S., Weise, A., Walsh, R. P., Ward, J. M., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 3: 8-?


    Plant phloem consists of an interdependent cell pair, the sieve element/companion cell complex. Sucrose transporters are localized to enucleate sieve elements (SE), despite being transcribed in companion cells (CC). Due to the high turnover of SUT1, sucrose transporter mRNA or protein must traffic from CC to SE via the plasmodesmata. Localization of SUT mRNA at plasmodesmatal orifices connecting CC and SE suggests RNA transport, potentially mediated by RNA binding proteins. In many organisms, polar RNA transport is mediated through RNA binding proteins interacting with the 3'-UTR and controlling localized protein synthesis. To study mechanisms for trafficking of SUT1, GFP-fusions with and without 3'-UTR were expressed in transgenic plants.In contrast to plants expressing GFP from the strong SUC2 promoter, in RolC-controlled expression GFP is retained in companion cells. The 3'-UTR of SUT1 affected intracellular distribution of GFP but was insufficient for trafficking of SUT1, GFP or their fusions to SEs. Fusion of GFP to SUT1 did however lead to accumulation of SUT1-GFP in the CC, indicating that trafficking was blocked while translational inhibition of SUT1 mRNA was released in CCs.A fusion with GFP prevents targeting of the sucrose transporter SUT1 to the SE while leading to accumulation in the CC. The 3'-UTR of SUT1 is insufficient for mobilization of either the fusion or GFP alone. It is conceivable that SUT1-GFP protein transport through PD to SE was blocked due to the presence of GFP, resulting in retention in CC particles. Alternatively, SUT1 mRNA transport through the PD could have been blocked due to insertion of GFP between the SUT1 coding sequence and 3'-UTR.

    View details for PubMedID 14667250

  • Homo- and hetero-oligomerization of ammonium transporter-1 NH4+ uniporters JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Ludewig, U., Wilken, S., Wu, B. H., Jost, W., Obrdlik, P., El Bakkoury, M., Marini, A. M., Andre, B., Hamacher, T., Boles, E., von Wiren, N., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 278 (46): 45603-45610


    In most organisms, high affinity ammonium uptake is catalyzed by members of the ammonium transporter family (AMT/MEP/Rh). A single point mutation (G458D) in the cytosolic C terminus of the plasma membrane transporter LeAMT1;1 from tomato leads to loss of function, although mutant and wild type proteins show similar localization when expressed in yeast or plant protoplasts. Co-expression of LeAMT1;1 and mutant in Xenopus oocytes inhibited ammonium transport in a dominant negative manner, suggesting homo-oligomerization. In vivo interaction between LeAMT1;1 proteins was confirmed by the split ubiquitin yeast two-hybrid system. LeAMT1;1 is isolated from root membranes as a high molecular mass oligomer, converted to a approximately 35-kDa polypeptide by denaturation. To investigate interactions with the LeAMT1;2 paralog, co-localizing with LeAMT1;1 in root hairs, LeAMT1;2 was characterized as a lower affinity NH4+ uniporter. Co-expression of wild types with the respective G458D/G465D mutants inhibited ammonium transport in a dominant negative manner, supporting the formation of heteromeric complexes in oocytes. Thus, in yeast, oocytes, and plants, ammonium transporters are able to oligomerize, which may be relevant for regulation of ammonium uptake.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M307424200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000186452300069

    View details for PubMedID 12952951

  • Urea transport by nitrogen-regulated tonoplast intrinsic proteins in Arabidopsis PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Liu, L. H., Ludewig, U., Gassert, B., Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 2003; 133 (3): 1220-1228


    Urea is the major nitrogen (N) form supplied as fertilizer in agricultural plant production and also an important N metabolite in plants. Because urea transport in plants is not well understood, the aim of the present study was to isolate urea transporter genes from the model plant Arabidopsis. Using heterologous complementation of a urea uptake-defective yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) mutant allowed to isolate AtTIP1;1, AtTIP1;2, AtTIP2;1, and AtTIP4;1 from a cDNA library of Arabidopsis. These cDNAs encode channel-like tonoplast intrinsic proteins (TIPs) that belong to the superfamily of major intrinsic proteins (or aquaporins). All four genes conferred growth of a urea uptake-defective yeast mutant on 2 mm urea in a phloretin-sensitive and pH-independent manner. Uptake studies using 14C-labeled urea into AtTIP2;1-expressing Xenopus laevis oocytes demonstrated that AtTIP2;1 facilitated urea transport also in a pH-independent manner and with linear concentration dependency. Expression studies showed that AtTIP1;2, AtTIP2;1, and AtTIP4;1 genes were up-regulated during early germination and under N deficiency in roots but constitutively expressed in shoots. Subcellular localization of green fluorescent protein-fused AtTIPs indicated that AtTIP1;2, AtTIP2;1, and AtTIP4;1 were targeted mainly to the tonoplast and other endomembranes. Thus, in addition to their role as water channels, TIP transporters may play a role in equilibrating urea concentrations between different cellular compartments.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.103.027409

    View details for Web of Science ID 000186644600027

    View details for PubMedID 14576283

  • Development of a fluorescent nanosensor for ribose FEBS LETTERS Lager, I., Fehr, M., Frommer, W. B., Lalonde, S. W. 2003; 553 (1-2): 85-89


    To analyze ribose uptake and metabolism in living cells, nanosensors were engineered by flanking the Escherichia coli periplasmic ribose binding protein with two green fluorescent protein variants. Following binding of ribose, fluorescence resonance energy transfer decreased with increasing ribose concentration. Five affinity mutants were generated covering binding constants between 400 nM and 11.7 mM. Analysis of nanosensor response in COS-7 cells showed that free ribose accumulates in the cell and is slowly metabolized. Inhibitor studies suggest that uptake is mediated by a monosaccharide transporter of the GLUT family, however, ribose taken up into the cell was not or only slowly released, indicating irreversibility of uptake.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0014-5793(03)00976-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000185877600016

    View details for PubMedID 14550551

  • In vivo imaging of the dynamics of glucose uptake in the cytosol of COS-7 cells by fluorescent nanosensors JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Fehr, M., Lalonde, S., Lager, I., Wolff, M. W., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 278 (21): 19127-19133


    Glucose homeostasis is a function of glucose supply, transport across the plasma membrane, and metabolism. To monitor glucose dynamics in individual cells, a glucose nanosensor was developed by flanking the Escherichia coli periplasmic glucose/galactose-binding protein with two different green fluorescent protein variants. Upon binding of substrate the FLIPglu-170n sensor showed a concentration-dependent decrease in fluorescence resonance energy transfer between the attached chromophores with a binding affinity for glucose of 170 nm. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements with different sugars indicated a broad selectivity for monosaccharides. An affinity mutant with a Kd of approximately 600 microM was generated, which showed higher substrate specificity, and thus allowed specific monitoring of reversible glucose dynamics in COS-7 cells in the physiological range. At external glucose concentrations between 0.5 and 10 mM, reflecting typical blood levels, free cytosolic glucose concentrations remained at approximately 50% of external levels. The removal of glucose lead to reduced glucose levels in the cell, demonstrating reversibility and visualizing homeostasis. Glucose levels dropped even in the presence of the transport inhibitor cytochalasin B, indicating rapid metabolism. Consistently, the addition of 2-deoxyglucose, which is not recognized by the sensor, affects glucose uptake and metabolism rates. Within the physiological range, glucose utilization, i.e. hexokinase activity, was not limiting. Furthermore, the results show that in COS-7 cells, cytosolic glucose concentrations can vary over at least two orders of magnitude. The glucose nanosensor provides a novel tool with numerous scientific, medical, and environmental applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M301333200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000182932200054

    View details for PubMedID 12649277

  • Overexpression of the sucrose transporter SoSUT1 in potato results in alterations in leaf carbon partitioning and in tuber metabolism but has little impact on tuber morphology PLANTA Leggewie, G., Kolbe, A., Lemoine, R., Roessner, U., Lytovchenko, A., Zuther, E., Kehr, J., Frommer, W. B., Riesmeier, J. W., Willmitzer, L., Fernie, A. R. 2003; 217 (1): 158-167


    The aim of this work was to examine the consequences of the heterologous expression of a spinach ( Spinacia oleracea L.) sucrose transporter ( SoSUT1) in potato ( Solanum tuberosum L.). Many studies have indicated that reduction of the expression of this class of sucrose transporter has deleterious effects on plant growth and development; however, until now the possibility of improving plant performance by enhancing the expression of this sucrose transporter has not been reported. With this intention we constructed a chimeric construct in which SoSUT1 was cloned in-frame with the myc epitope. We confirmed that this construct, SoSUT1m, was able to mediate sucrose transport by expression in the yeast strain SUSY7. SoSUT1m was expressed in wild-type potato in the sense orientation under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter to evaluate the effect of an increased constitutive expression of a class-I sucrose transporter. We confirmed that these plants displayed expression of SoSUT1 at both the transcript and protein level and that microsomal fragments isolated from selected lines had an increased sucrose uptake capacity. Analysis of metabolism of these lines indicated that the leaves were characterised by a reduced sucrose level yet exhibited little change in photosynthetic rate. Furthermore, despite the observed increase in sugar (and reduction in amino acid) levels within the tubers, there was little change in either starch content or tuber yield in the transformants. In summary, the genetic manipulation described in this paper resulted in a shift in carbon partitioning in both leaves and tubers and an increased sucrose uptake rate in plasma-membrane vesicles isolated from these lines, but had little impact on tuber metabolism or morphology.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00425-003-0975-x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000183386800018

    View details for PubMedID 12721860

  • Plant science - Hexokinase, jack-of-all-trades SCIENCE Frommer, W. B., Schulze, W. X., Lalonde, S. 2003; 300 (5617): 261-?

    View details for Web of Science ID 000182135400034

    View details for PubMedID 12690178

  • An expression cDNA library for suppression cloning in yeast mutants, complementation of a yeast his4 mutant, and EST analysis from the symbiotic basidiomycete Hebeloma cylindrosporum GENOME Wipf, D., Benjdia, M., Rikirsch, E., Zimmermann, S., Tegeder, M., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 46 (2): 177-181


    An oriented expression library was constructed from the mycelia of the symbiotic model fungus Hebeloma cylindrosporum in the high-level yeast expression vector pDR196. DNA sequencing of approximately 500 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) showed that 15% correspond to known genes, two thirds contain sequences with unknown function, andthe remaining 20% showed no significant similarity to any known genes. The ESTs had a GC content between 44 and 56%, with most of them having a GC content of 52-54%, which could be correlated with GC contents of fungal genes. The library was successfully used to identify the Hebeloma HIS4 gene by functional complementation of a yeast his4 mutant. Thus, the library may serve as a powerful tool for identification and characterization of mycorrhizal genes by EST analysis and for the identification of ectomycorrhizal genes by means of suppression cloning.

    View details for DOI 10.1139/G02-121

    View details for Web of Science ID 000182107000001

    View details for PubMedID 12723033

  • Various ion channels in leaf protoplasts from the moss Physcomitrella patens PLANT SCIENCE Klein, M., Frommer, W. B., Ludewig, U. 2003; 164 (4): 657-664
  • Transport of cytokinins mediated by purine transporters of the PUP family expressed in phloem, hydathodes, and pollen of Arabidopsis PLANT JOURNAL Burkle, L., Cedzich, A., Dopke, C., Stransky, H., Okumoto, S., Gillissen, B., Kuhn, C., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 34 (1): 13-26


    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.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000181862400002

    View details for PubMedID 12662305

  • Interactions between co-expressed Arabidopsis sucrose transporters in the split-ubiquitin system. BMC biochemistry Schulze, W. X., Reinders, A., Ward, J., Lalonde, S., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 4: 3-?


    The Arabidopsis genome contains nine sucrose transporter paralogs falling into three clades: SUT1-like, SUT2 and SUT4. The carriers differ in their kinetic properties. Many transport proteins are known to exist as oligomers. The yeast-based split ubiquitin system can be used to analyze the ability of membrane proteins to interact.Promoter-GUS fusions were used to analyze the cellular expression of the three transporter genes in transgenic Arabidopsis plants. All three fusion genes are co-expressed in companion cells. Protein-protein interactions between Arabidopsis sucrose transporters were tested using the split ubiquitin system. Three paralogous sucrose transporters are capable of interacting as either homo- or heteromers. The interactions are specific, since a potassium channel and a glucose transporter did not show interaction with sucrose transporters. Also the biosynthetic and metabolizing enzymes, sucrose phosphate phosphatase and sucrose synthase, which were found to be at least in part bound to the plasma membrane, did not specifically interact with sucrose transporters.The split-ubiquitin system provides a powerful tool to detect potential interactions between plant membrane proteins by heterologous expression in yeast, and can be used to screen for interactions with membrane proteins as baits. Like other membrane proteins, the Arabidopsis sucrose transporters are able to form oligomers. The biochemical approaches are required to confirm the in planta interaction.

    View details for PubMedID 12689351

  • AtDUR3 encodes a new type of high-affinity urea/H+ symporter in Arabidopsis PLANT CELL Liu, L. H., Ludewig, U., Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 2003; 15 (3): 790-800


    Urea is the major nitrogen form supplied as fertilizer in agricultural plant production but also an important nitrogen metabolite in plants. We report the cloning and functional characterization of AtDUR3, a high-affinity urea transporter in plants. AtDUR3 contains 14 putative transmembrane-spanning domains and represents an individual member in Arabidopsis that belongs to a superfamily of sodium-solute symporters. Heterologous expression in urea uptake-defective yeast as well as two-electrode voltage clamp and uptake studies using (14)C-labeled urea in AtDUR3-expressing oocytes demonstrated that AtDUR3 mediates urea transport. In both heterologous systems, urea transport was stimulated at low pH. In oocytes, inward currents indicated that urea is cotransported with protons. By contrast, a supply of Na(+) ions could not stimulate urea transport. Transport of (14)C-labeled urea by AtDUR3 in oocytes exhibited saturation kinetics with a K(m) of approximately 3 micro M. AtDUR3 was expressed in shoots and roots and upregulated during early germination and under nitrogen deficiency in roots. We propose a role of AtDUR3 in urea uptake by plant cells at low external urea concentrations.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.007120

    View details for Web of Science ID 000185078000019

    View details for PubMedID 12615950

  • Identification of an Arabidopsis mitochondrial succinate-fumarate translocator FEBS LETTERS Catoni, E., Schwab, R., Hilpert, M., Desimone, M., Schwacke, R., Flugge, U. I., Schumacher, K., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 534 (1-3): 87-92


    Complementation of a yeast acr1 mutant carrying a deletion of the succinate/fumarate carrier gene enabled functional identification of a mitochondrial succinate translocator from Arabidopsis thaliana (AtmSFC1). Thus complementation of yeast mutants is applicable also for identification and characterization of organellar transporters. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and promoter-GUS fusion showed expression of AtmSFC1 in 2 day old dark grown seedlings, which declined in cotyledons during further development, consistent with a role in export of fumarate for gluconeogenesis during lipid mobilization at early germination of Arabidopsis seeds. In mature plants, expression was found in developing and germinating pollen, suggesting a role in ethanolic fermentation.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0014-5793(02)03782-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180502100015

    View details for PubMedID 12527366

  • Expression pattern of a nuclear encoded mitochondrial arginine-ornithine translocator gene from Arabidopsis. BMC plant biology Catoni, E., Desimone, M., Hilpert, M., Wipf, D., Kunze, R., Schneider, A., Flügge, U., Schumacher, K., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 3: 1-?


    Arginine and citrulline serve as nitrogen storage forms, but are also involved in biosynthetic and catabolic pathways. Metabolism of arginine, citrulline and ornithine is distributed between mitochondria and cytosol. For the shuttle of intermediates between cytosol and mitochondria transporters present on the inner mitochondrial membrane are required. Yeast contains a mitochondrial translocator for ornithine and arginine, Ort1p/Arg11p. Ort1p/Arg11p is a member of the mitochondrial carrier family (MCF) essential for ornithine export from mitochondria. The yeast arg11 mutant, which is deficient in Ort1p/Arg11p grows poorly on media lacking arginine.High-level expression of a nuclear encoded Arabidopsis thaliana homolog (AtmBAC2) of Ort1p/Arg11p was able to suppress the growth deficiency of arg11. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated expression of AtmBAC2 in all tissues with highest levels in flowers. Promoter-GUS fusions showed preferential expression in flowers, i.e. pollen, in the vasculature of siliques and in aborted seeds. Variable expression was observed in leaf vasculature. Induction of the promoter was not observed during the first two weeks in seedlings grown on media containing NH4NO3, arginine or ornithine as sole nitrogen sources.AtmBAC2 was isolated as a mitochondrial transporter for arginine in Arabidopsis. The absence of expression in developing seeds and in cotyledons of seedlings indicates that other transporters are responsible for storage and mobilization of arginine in seeds.

    View details for PubMedID 12517306

  • Reduced amino acid content in transgenic potato tubers due to antisense inhibition of the leaf H+/amino acid symporter StAAP1 PLANT JOURNAL Koch, W., Kwart, M., Laubner, M., Heineke, D., Stransky, H., Frommer, W. B., Tegeder, M. 2003; 33 (2): 211-220


    Transport processes across the plasma membrane of leaf vascular tissue are essential for transport and distribution of assimilates. In potato, leaves are the predominant sites for nitrate reduction and amino acid biosynthesis. From there, assimilated amino acids are exported through the phloem to supply tubers with organic nitrogen. To study the role of amino acid transporters in long-distance transport and allocation of organic nitrogen in potato plants, a gene encoding a functional, leaf-expressed amino acid permease StAAP1 was isolated. Similar to the sucrose transporter SUT1, StAAP1 expression was induced during the sink-to-source transition, indicating a role in phloem loading. To test the role of StAAP1, expression was inhibited by an antisense approach. Transgenic plants with reduced StAAP1 expression were phenotypically indistinguishable from wild type, as were photosynthetic capacity and tuber yield. However, tubers from antisense StAAP1 plants showed up to 50% reduction in free amino acid contents. In comparison, starch content was not affected or tended to increase relative to wild type. The reduction in all amino acids except aspartate in the antisense plants is consistent with the properties of amino acid permeases (AAPs) found in heterologous systems. The results demonstrate an important role for StAAP1 in long-distance transport of amino acids and highlight the importance of plasma membrane transport for nutrient distribution in plants.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180475400001

    View details for PubMedID 12535336

  • Phloem loading and unloading of sugars and amino acids PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT Lalonde, S., Tegeder, M., Throne-Holst, M., Frommer, W. B., Patrick, J. W. 2003; 26 (1): 37-56
  • Transport of metabolites. The Arabidopsis Book. (Somerville C.R. & Meyerowitz E.M., eds.) American Society of Plant Biologist, Rockville, doi/101199/tab.0092, Ludewig U., Frommer W.B. 2003
  • ARAMEMNON, a novel database for Arabidopsis integral membrane proteins PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Schwacke, R., Schneider, A., van der Graaff, E., Fischer, K., Catoni, E., Desimone, M., Frommer, W. B., Flugge, U. I., Kunze, R. 2003; 131 (1): 16-26


    A specialized database (DB) for Arabidopsis membrane proteins, ARAMEMNON, was designed that facilitates the interpretation of gene and protein sequence data by integrating features that are presently only available from individual sources. Using several publicly available prediction programs, putative integral membrane proteins were identified among the approximately 25,500 proteins in the Arabidopsis genome DBs. By averaging the predictions from seven programs, approximately 6,500 proteins were classified as transmembrane (TM) candidate proteins. Some 1,800 of these contain at least four TM spans and are possibly linked to transport functions. The ARAMEMNON DB enables direct comparison of the predictions of seven different TM span computation programs and the predictions of subcellular localization by eight signal peptide recognition programs. A special function displays the proteins related to the query and dynamically generates a protein family structure. As a first set of proteins from other organisms, all of the approximately 700 putative membrane proteins were extracted from the genome of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. and incorporated in the ARAMEMNON DB. The ARAMEMNON DB is accessible at the URL

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.011577

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180589500006

    View details for PubMedID 12529511

  • The sucrose transporter StSUT1 localizes to sieve elements in potato tuber phloem and influences tuber physiology and development PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Kuhn, C., Hajirezaei, M. R., Fernie, A. R., Roessner-Tunali, U., Czechowski, T., Hirner, B., Frommer, W. B. 2003; 131 (1): 102-113


    The sucrose (Suc) H(+)-cotransporter StSUT1 from potato (Solanum tuberosum), which is essential for long-distance transport of Suc and assumed to play a role in phloem loading in mature leaves, was found to be expressed in sink tubers. To answer the question of whether SUT1 serves a function in phloem unloading in tubers, the promoter was fused to gusA and expression was analyzed in transgenic potato. SUT1 expression was unexpectedly detected not in tuber parenchyma but in the phloem of sink tubers. Immunolocalization demonstrated that StSUT1 protein was present only in sieve elements of sink tubers, cells normally involved in export of Suc from the phloem to supply developing tubers, raising the question of the role of SUT1 in tubers. SUT1 expression was inhibited by antisense in transgenic potato plants using a class I patatin promoter B33, which is primarily expressed in the phloem of developing tubers. Reduced SUT1 expression in tubers did not affect aboveground organs but led to reduced fresh weight accumulation during early stages of tuber development, indicating that in this phase SUT1 plays an important role for sugar transport. Changes in Suc- and starch-modifying enzyme activities and metabolite profiles are consistent with the developmental switch in unloading mechanisms. Altogether, the findings may suggest a role of SUT1 in retrieval of Suc from the apoplasm, thereby regulating the osmotic potential in the extracellular space, or a direct role in phloem unloading acting as a phloem exporter transferring Suc from the sieve elements into the apoplasm.

    View details for DOI 10.1104/pp.011676

    View details for Web of Science ID 000180589500014

    View details for PubMedID 12529519

  • Plant biotechnology. A future for plant biotechnology? Naturally! Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. Frommer, W. 2003; 6 (2): 147-149
  • High affinity amino acid transporters specifically expressed in xylem parenchyma and developing seeds of Arabidopsis JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Okumoto, S., Schmidt, R., Tegeder, M., Fischer, W. N., Rentsch, D., Frommer, W. B., Koch, W. 2002; 277 (47): 45338-45346


    Arabidopsis amino acid transporters (AAPs) show individual temporal and spatial expression patterns. A new amino acid transporter, AAP8 was isolated by reverse transcription-PCR. Growth and transport assays in comparison to AAP1-5 characterize AAP8 and AAP6 as high affinity amino acid transport systems from Arabidopsis. Histochemical promoter-beta-glucuronidase (GUS) studies identified AAP6 expression in xylem parenchyma, cells requiring high affinity transport due to the low amino acid concentration in xylem sap. AAP6 may thus function in uptake of amino acids from xylem. Histochemical analysis of AAP8 revealed stage-dependent expression in siliques and developing seeds. Thus AAP8 is probably responsible for import of organic nitrogen into developing seeds. The only missing transporter of the family AAP7 was nonfunctional in yeast with respect to amino acid transport, and expression was not detectable. Therefore, AAP6 and -8 are the only members of the family able to transport aspartate with physiologically relevant affinity. AAP1, -6 and -8 are the closest AAP paralogs. Although AAP1 and AAP8 originate from a duplicated region on chromosome I, biochemical properties and expression pattern diverged. Overlapping substrate specificities paired with individual properties and expression patterns point to specific functions of each of the AAP genes in nitrogen distribution rather than to mere redundancy.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M207730200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000179404800096

    View details for PubMedID 12244056

  • Plant biology - Ping-pong with boron NATURE Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 2002; 420 (6913): 282-283

    View details for DOI 10.1038/420282a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000179340400030

    View details for PubMedID 12447429

  • Characterization of a general amino acid permease from Hebeloma cylindrosporum FEBS LETTERS Wipf, D., Benjdia, M., Tegeder, M., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 528 (1-3): 119-124


    Besides a role in phosphate supply, ectomycorrhizas play a crucial role in nitrogen nutrition of plants. The ectomycorrhizal association between Hebeloma cylindrosporum and Pinus pinaster serves as a model system accessible to molecular manipulation. Hebeloma mycelium is able to take up and use amino acids as the sole nitrogen source. Suppression cloning allowed identification of a Hebeloma transporter (HcGAP1) mediating histidine uptake. HcGAP1 mediates secondary active uptake of a wide spectrum of different amino acids. The secondary active transport mechanism together with the expression in hyphae, but not in mycorrhizas, indicate a role in uptake of organic nitrogen from the soil.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000178282500023

    View details for PubMedID 12297290

  • A putative role for the vacuolar calcium/manganese proton antiporter AtCAX2 in heavy metal detoxification PLANT BIOLOGY Schaaf, G., Catoni, E., Fitz, M., Schwacke, R., Schneider, A., von Wiren, N., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 4 (5): 612-618
  • Visualization of maltose uptake in living yeast cells by fluorescent nanosensors PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Fehr, M., Frommer, W. B., Lalonde, S. 2002; 99 (15): 9846-9851


    Compartmentation of metabolic reactions and thus transport within and between cells can be understood only if we know subcellular distribution based on nondestructive dynamic monitoring. Currently, methods are not available for in vivo metabolite imaging at cellular or subcellular levels. Limited information derives from methods requiring fixation or fractionation of tissue (1, 2). We thus developed a flexible strategy for designing protein-based nanosensors for a wide spectrum of solutes, allowing analysis of changes in solute concentration in living cells. We made use of bacterial periplasmic binding proteins (PBPs), where we show that, on binding of the substrate, PBPs transform their hinge-bend movement into increased fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between two coupled green fluorescent proteins. By using the maltose-binding protein as a prototype, nanosensors were constructed allowing in vitro determination of FRET changes in a concentration-dependent fashion. For physiological applications, mutants with different binding affinities were generated, allowing dynamic in vivo imaging of the increase in cytosolic maltose concentration in single yeast cells. Control sensors allow the exclusion of the effect from other cellular or environmental parameters on ratio imaging. Thus the myriad of PBPs recognizing a wide spectrum of different substrates is suitable for FRET-based in vivo detection, providing numerous scientific, medical, and environmental applications.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.142089199

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177042400046

    View details for PubMedID 12097642

  • Expression of the NH4+-transporter gene LEAMT1;2 is induced in tomato roots upon association with N-2-fixing bacteria PLANTA Becker, D., Stanke, R., Fendrik, I., Frommer, W. B., VANDERLEYDEN, J., Kaiser, W. M., Hedrich, R. 2002; 215 (3): 424-429


    Plants growing in close association with N(2)-fixing bacteria are able to overcome growth limitations in N-depleted soils. The molecular mechanism by which free-living, N(2)-fixing bacteria promote plant growth is still a matter of debate. By inoculating N-depleted tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) plants with Azospirillum brasilense or Azoarcus sp. we could demonstrate the induction of the root NH(+)(4)-transporter gene, LEAMT1;2 (L. esculentum ammonium transporter 1;2), indicating that bacterial NH(+)(4) might be used as an N source under these conditions. Azospirillum brasilense (nif(-)) mutants, which lack the structural nifDK genes, failed to induce LEAMT1;2 expression. This suggests that root-associated N(2)-fixing bacteria do excrete NH(+)(4) to levels that can be sensed by tomato roots and is in agreement with the induction of expression of LEAMT1;2 with as low as > or = 1 microM external NH(+)(4). While peak expression was obtained with 2-5 microM NH(+)(4), a further increase in NH(+)(4) reduced LEAMT1;2-mRNA levels in a concentration-dependent manner. The inhibition of LEAMT1;2 expression by glutamine and the glutamine synthetase blocker L-methionine sulfoximine (MSX) provided evidence for the control of LEAMT1;2 expression by cytoplasmic NH(+)(4) concentration or the plant N status. Since micromolar concentrations of NH(+)(4) strongly increased the LEAMT1;2-mRNA levels, the transported NH(+)(4) ion itself could represent a key signal in the associative interaction between higher plants and N(2)-fixing micro-organisms.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00425-002-0773-x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177179700010

    View details for PubMedID 12111224

  • Protein-protein interactions between sucrose transporters of different affinities colocalized in the same enucleate sieve element PLANT CELL Reinders, A., Schulze, W., Kuhn, C., Barker, L., Schulz, A., Ward, J. M., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 14 (7): 1567-1577


    Suc represents the major transport form for carbohydrates in plants. Suc is loaded actively against a concentration gradient into sieve elements, which constitute the conduit for assimilate export out of leaves. Three members of the Suc transporter family with different properties were identified: SUT1, a high-affinity Suc proton cotransporter; SUT4, a low-affinity transporter; and SUT2, which in yeast is only weakly active and shows features similar to those of the yeast sugar sensors RGT2 and SNF3. Immunolocalization demonstrated that all three SUT proteins are localized in the same enucleate sieve element. Thus, the potential of Suc transporters to form homooligomers was tested by the yeast-based split-ubiquitin system. The results show that both SUT1 and SUT2 have the potential to form homooligomers. Moreover, all three Suc transporters have the potential to interact with each other. As controls, a potassium channel and a monosaccharide transporter, expressed in the plasma membrane, did not interact with the SUTs. The in vivo interaction between the functionally different Suc transporters indicates that the membrane proteins are capable of forming oligomeric structures that, like mammalian Glc transporter complexes, might be of functional significance for the regulation of transport.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.002428

    View details for Web of Science ID 000177065400011

    View details for PubMedID 12119375

  • Intra- and intermolecular interactions in sucrose transporters at the plasma membrane detected by the split-ubiquitin system and functional assays STRUCTURE Reinders, A., Schulze, W., Thaminy, S., Stagljar, I., Frommer, W. B., Ward, J. M. 2002; 10 (6): 763-772


    Interaction of two separately expressed halves of sucrose transporter SUT1 was detected by an optimized split-ubiquitin system. The halves reconstitute sucrose transport activity at the plasma membrane with affinities similar to the intact protein. The halves do not function independently, and an intact central loop is not required for membrane insertion, plasma membrane targeting, and transport. Under native conditions, the halves associate into higher molecular mass complexes. Furthermore, the N-terminal half of the low-affinity SUT2 interacts functionally with the C-terminal half of SUT1. Since the N terminus of SUT2 determines affinity for sucrose, the reconstituted chimera has lower affinity than SUT1. The split-ubiquitin system efficiently detects intramolecular interactions in membrane proteins, and can be used to dissect transporter structure.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000176223500005

    View details for PubMedID 12057192

  • Uniport of NH4+ by the root hair plasma membrane ammonium transporter LeAMT1;1 JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Ludewig, U., von Wiren, N., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 277 (16): 13548-13555


    The transport of ammonium/ammonia is a key process for the acquisition and metabolism of nitrogen. Ammonium transport is mediated by the AMT/MEP/Rh family of membrane proteins which are found in microorganisms, plants, and animals, including the Rhesus blood group antigens in humans. Although ammonium transporters from all kingdoms have been functionally expressed and partially characterized, the transport mechanism, as well as the identity of the true substrate (NH(4+) or NH(3)) remains unclear. Here we describe the functional expression and characterization of LeAMT1;1, a root hair ammonium transporter from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) in Xenopus oocytes. Micromolar concentrations of external ammonium were found to induce concentration- and voltage-dependent inward currents in oocytes injected with LeAMT1;1 cRNA, but not in water-injected control oocytes. The NH(4+)-induced currents were more than 3-fold larger than methylammonium currents and were not subject to inhibition by Na(+) or K(+). The voltage dependence of the affinity of LeAMT1;1 toward its substrate strongly suggests that charged NH(4+), rather than NH(3), is the true transport substrate. Furthermore, ammonium transport was independent of the external proton concentration between pH 5.5 and pH 8.5. LeAMT1;1 is concluded to mediate potential-driven NH(4+) uptake and retrieval depending on root membrane potential and NH(4+) concentration gradient.

    View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M200739200

    View details for Web of Science ID 000175096000028

    View details for PubMedID 11821433

  • Seed-specific overexpression of a potato sucrose transporter increases sucrose uptake and growth rates of developing pea cotyledons PLANT JOURNAL Rosche, E., Blackmore, D., Tegeder, M., Richardson, T., Schroeder, H., Higgins, T. J., Frommer, W. B., Offler, C. E., Patrick, J. W. 2002; 30 (2): 165-175


    During the storage phase, cotyledons of developing pea seeds are nourished by nutrients released to the seed apoplasm by their maternal seed coats. Sucrose is transported into pea cotyledons by sucrose/H+ symport mediated by PsSUT1 and possibly other sucrose symporters. PsSUT1 is principally localised to plasma membranes of cotyledon epidermal and subepidermal transfer cells abutting the seed coat. We tested the hypothesis that endogenous sucrose/H+ symporter(s) regulate sucrose import into developing pea cotyledons. This was done by supplementing their transport activity with a potato sucrose symporter (StSUT1), selectively expressed in cotyledon storage parenchyma cells under control of a vicilin promoter. In segregating transgenic lines, enhanced [(14)C]sucrose influx into cotyledons above wild-type levels was found to be dependent on StSUT1 expression. The transgene significantly increased (approximately 2-fold) transport activity of cotyledon storage parenchyma tissues where it was selectively expressed. In contrast, sucrose influx into whole cotyledons through the endogenous epidermal transfer cell pathway was increased by only 23% in cotyledons expressing the transgene. A similar response was found for rates of biomass gain by intact cotyledons and by excised cotyledons cultured on a sucrose medium. These observations demonstrate that transport activities of sucrose symporters influence cotyledon growth rates. The attenuated effect of StSUT1 overexpression on sucrose and dry matter fluxes by whole cotyledons is consistent with a large proportion of sucrose being taken up at the cotyledonary surface. This indicates that the cellular location of sucrose transporter activity plays a key role in determining rates of sucrose import into cotyledons.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000175477100005

    View details for PubMedID 12000453

  • A novel superfamily of transporters for allantoin and other oxo derivatives of nitrogen heterocyclic compounds in Arabidopsis PLANT CELL Desimone, M., Catoni, E., Ludewig, U., Hilpert, M., Schneider, A., Kunze, R., Tegeder, M., Frommer, W. B., Schumacher, K. 2002; 14 (4): 847-856


    A wide spectrum of soil heterocyclic nitrogen compounds are potential nutrients for plants. Here, it is shown that Arabidopsis plants are able to use allantoin as sole nitrogen source. By functional complementation of a yeast mutant defective in allantoin uptake, an Arabidopsis transporter, AtUPS1 (Arabidopsis thaliana ureide permease 1), was identified. AtUPS1 belongs to a novel superfamily of plant membrane proteins with five open reading frames in Arabidopsis (identity, 64 to 82%). UPS proteins have 10 putative transmembrane domains with a large cytosolic central domain containing a "Walker A" motif. Transport of (14)C-labeled allantoin by AtUPS1 in yeast exhibited saturation kinetics (K(m) approximately 52 microM), was dependent on Glc and a proton gradient, and was stimulated by acidic pH. AtUPS1 transports uric acid and xanthine, besides allantoin, but not adenine. Protons are cosubstrates in allantoin transport by AtUPS1, as demonstrated by expression in Xenopus laevis oocytes. In plants, AtUPS1 gene expression was dependent on the nitrogen source. Therefore, AtUPS1 presumably is involved in the uptake of allantoin and other purine degradation products when primary sources are limiting.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.010458

    View details for Web of Science ID 000175350100009

    View details for PubMedID 11971139

  • Low and high affinity amino acid H+-cotransporters for cellular import of neutral and charged amino acids PLANT JOURNAL Fischer, W. N., Loo, D. D., Koch, W., Ludewig, U., Boorer, K. J., Tegeder, M., Rentsch, D., Wright, E. M., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 29 (6): 717-731


    Amides and acidic amino acids represent the major long distance transport forms of organic nitrogen. Six amino acid permeases (AAPs) from Arabidopsis mediating transport of a wide spectrum of amino acids were isolated. AAPs are distantly related to plasma membrane amino acid transport systems N and A and to vesicular transporters such as VGAT from mammals. A detailed comparison of the properties by electrophysiology after heterologous expression in Xenopus oocytes shows that, although capable of recognizing and transporting a wide spectrum of amino acids, individual AAPs differ with respect to specificity. Apparent substrate affinities are influenced by structure and net charge and vary by three orders of magnitude. AAPs mediate cotransport of neutral amino acids with one proton. Uncharged forms of acidic and basic amino acids are cotransported with one proton. Since all AAPs are differentially expressed, different tissues may be supplied with a different spectrum of amino acids. AAP3 and AAP5 are the only transporters mediating efficient transport of the basic amino acids. In vivo competition shows that the capability to transport basic amino acids in planta might be overruled by excess amides and acidic amino acids in the apoplasm. With the exception of AAP6, AAPs do not recognize aspartate; only AAP6 has an affinity for aspartate in the physiologically relevant range. This property is due to an overall higher affinity of AAP6 for neutral and acidic amino acids. Thus AAP6 may serve a different role either in cooperating with the lower affinity systems to acquire amino acids in the low concentration range, as a system responsible for aspartate transport or as an uptake system from the xylem. In agreement, a yeast mutant deficient in acidic amino acid uptake at low aspartate concentrations was complemented only by AAP6. Taken together, the AAPs transport neutral, acidic and cationic amino acids, including the major transport forms, i.e. glutamine, asparagine and glutamate. Increasing proton concentrations strongly activate transport of amino acids. Thus the actual apoplasmic concentration of amino acids and the pH will determine what is transported in vivo, i.e. major amino acids such as glutamine, asparagine, and glutamate will be mobilized preferentially.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000174987000004

    View details for PubMedID 12148530

  • Conservation of amino acid transporters in fungi, plants and animals TRENDS IN BIOCHEMICAL SCIENCES Wipf, D., Ludewig, U., Tegeder, M., Rentsch, D., Koch, W., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 27 (3): 139-147


    When comparing the transporters of three completely sequenced eukaryotic genomes--Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana and Homo sapiens--transporter types can be distinguished according to phylogeny, substrate spectrum, transport mechanism and cell specificity. The known amino acid transporters belong to five different superfamilies. Two preferentially Na(+)-coupled transporter superfamilies are not represented in the yeast and Arabidopsis genomes, whereas the other three groups, which often function as H(+)-coupled systems, have members in all investigated genomes. Additional superfamilies exist for organellar transport, including mitochondrial and plastidic carriers. When used in combination with phylogenetic analyses, functional comparison might aid our prediction of physiological functions for related but uncharacterized open reading frames.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000174416700011

    View details for PubMedID 11893511

  • Genes and proteins for solute transport and sensing. The Arabidopsis book / American Society of Plant Biologists Ludewig, U., Frommer, W. B. 2002; 1

    View details for DOI 10.1199/tab.0092

    View details for PubMedID 22303221

  • Metabolic engineering of plants: The role of membrane transport METABOLIC ENGINEERING Kunze, R., Frommer, W. B., Flugge, U. I. 2002; 4 (1): 57-66


    As plant cells are highly compartmentalized, the entrance and exit points of metabolic pathways frequently involve membrane passages of solutes. Transport proteins are often located in strategic positions to control whole pathways and have to be considered in the development of metabolic engineering strategies. Here, we discuss examples of pathways (in carbohydrate metabolism, amino acid and secondary compound synthesis, and mineral metabolism) in which membrane transport steps are considered to exert major control and in which transport proteins have been employed to manipulate metabolic fluxes.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000173728200008

    View details for PubMedID 11800575

  • A nuclear gene encoding mitochondrial triangle(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase and its potential role in protection from proline toxicity PLANT JOURNAL Deuschle, K., Funck, D., Hellmann, H., Daschner, K., Binder, S., Frommer, W. B. 2001; 27 (4): 345-355


    Delta1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C), an intermediate in biosynthesis and degradation of proline (Pro), is assumed to play a role in cell death in plants and animals. Toxicity of external Pro and P5C supply to Arabidopsis suggested that P5C dehydrogenase (P5CDH; EC plays a crucial role in this process by degrading the toxic Pro catabolism intermediate P5C. Also in a Deltaput2 yeast mutant, lacking P5CDH, Pro led to growth inhibition and formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Complementation of the Deltaput2 mutant allowed identification of the Arabidopsis P5CDH gene. AtP5CDH is a single-copy gene and the encoded protein was localized to the mitochondria. High homology of AtP5CDH to LuFIS1, an mRNA up-regulated during susceptible pathogen attack in flax, suggested a role for P5CDH in inhibition of hypersensitive reactions. An Arabidopsis mutant (cpr5) displaying a constitutive pathogen response was found to be hypersensitive to external Pro. In agreement with a role in prevention of cell death, AtP5CDH was expressed at a basal level in all tissues analysed. The highest expression was found in flowers that are known to contain the highest Pro levels under normal conditions. External supply of Pro induced AtP5CDH expression, but much more slowly than Pro dehydrogenase (AtProDH) expression. Uncoupled induction of the AtProDH and AtP5CDH genes further supports the hypothesis that P5C levels have to be tightly controlled. These results indicate that, in addition to the well-studied functions of Pro, for example in osmoregulation, the Pro metabolism intermediate P5C also serves as a regulator of cellular stress responses.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000170799100008

    View details for PubMedID 11532180

  • Rhesus factors and ammonium: a function in efflux? GENOME BIOLOGY Ludewig, U., von Wiren, N., Rentsch, D., Frommer, W. B. 2001; 2 (3)


    Completion of fungal, plant and human genomes paved the way to the identification of erythrocytic rhesus proteins and their kidney homologs as ammonium transporters.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000207583700007

    View details for PubMedID 11276430

  • Companion cells. Encylopedia of Life Sciences,, London: Nature Publ. Group Lalonde S., Franceschi V.R. & Frommer W.B. 2001
  • Regulatory levels of ammonium transport in response to varied N nutrition in tomato. Plant nutrition ? Food security and sustainability of agro-ecosystems (Horst W.J. et al., eds.) Kluwer Academic Publishers Wilken S., Walch-Liu P., Jost W., Borel I., Frommer W.B. & von Wirén N. 2001: 24-25
  • Plant nutrition ? Food security and sustainability of agro-ecosystems Kluwer Academic Publishers Horst W.J., Frommer W.B. et al. 2001
  • Amino acid transport. Plant Nitrogen (Lea, P. & Morot-Gaudry, J.F. eds.) Springer Delrot S, Rochat C., Tegeder M. & Frommer W.B. 2001: 213-235
  • Function of the cytosolic N-terminus of sucrose transporter AtSUT2 in substrate affinity FEBS LETTERS Schulze, W., Weise, A., Frommer, W. B., Ward, J. M. 2000; 485 (2-3): 189-194


    AtSUT2 was found to be a low-affinity sucrose transporter (K(M)=11.7 mM at pH 4). Chimeric proteins between AtSUT2 and the high-affinity StSUT1 were constructed in which the extended N-terminus and central loop of AtSUT2 were exchanged with those domains of StSUT1 and vice versa. Chimeras containing the N-terminus of AtSUT2 showed significantly lower affinity for sucrose compared to chimeras containing the N-terminus of StSUT1. The results indicate a significant function of the N-terminus but not the central cytoplasmic loop in determining substrate affinity. Expression of AtSUT2 in major veins of source leaves and in flowers is compatible with a role as a second low-affinity sucrose transporter or as a sucrose sensor.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000165648800018

    View details for PubMedID 11094165

  • A new subfamily of sucrose transporters, SUT4, with low affinity/high capacity localized in enucleate sieve elements of plants PLANT CELL Weise, A., Barker, L., Kuhn, C., Lalonde, S., Buschmann, H., Frommer, W. B., Ward, J. M. 2000; 12 (8): 1345-1355


    A new subfamily of sucrose transporters from Arabidopsis (AtSUT4), tomato (LeSUT4), and potato (StSUT4) was isolated, demonstrating only 47% similarity to the previously characterized SUT1. SUT4 from two plant species conferred sucrose uptake activity when expressed in yeast. The K(m) for sucrose uptake by AtSUT4 of 11.6 +/- 0.6 mM was approximately 10-fold greater than for all other plant sucrose transporters characterized to date. An ortholog from potato had similar kinetic properties. Thus, SUT4 corresponds to the low-affinity/high-capacity saturable component of sucrose uptake found in leaves. In contrast to SUT1, SUT4 is expressed predominantly in minor veins in source leaves, where high-capacity sucrose transport is needed for phloem loading. In potato and tomato, SUT4 was immunolocalized specifically to enucleate sieve elements, indicating that like SUT1, macromolecular trafficking is required to transport the mRNA or the protein from companion cells through plasmodesmata into the sieve elements.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089127100008

    View details for PubMedID 10948254

  • SUT2, a putative sucrose sensor in sieve elements PLANT CELL Barker, L., Kuhn, C., Weise, A., Schulz, A., Gebhardt, C., Hirner, B., Hellmann, H., Schulze, W., Ward, J. M., Frommer, W. B. 2000; 12 (7): 1153-1164


    In leaves, sucrose uptake kinetics involve high- and low-affinity components. A family of low- and high-affinity sucrose transporters (SUT) was identified. SUT1 serves as a high-affinity transporter essential for phloem loading and long-distance transport in solanaceous species. SUT4 is a low-affinity transporter with an expression pattern overlapping that of SUT1. Both SUT1 and SUT4 localize to enucleate sieve elements of tomato. New sucrose transporter-like proteins, named SUT2, from tomato and Arabidopsis contain extended cytoplasmic domains, thus structurally resembling the yeast sugar sensors SNF3 and RGT2. Features common to these sensors are low codon bias, environment of the start codon, low expression, and lack of detectable transport activity. In contrast to LeSUT1, which is induced during the sink-to-source transition of leaves, SUT2 is more highly expressed in sink than in source leaves and is inducible by sucrose. LeSUT2 protein colocalizes with the low- and high-affinity sucrose transporters in sieve elements of tomato petioles, indicating that multiple SUT mRNAs or proteins travel from companion cells to enucleate sieve elements. The SUT2 gene maps on chromosome V of potato and is linked to a major quantitative trait locus for tuber starch content and yield. Thus, the putative sugar sensor identified colocalizes with two other sucrose transporters, differs from them in kinetic properties, and potentially regulates the relative activity of low- and high-affinity sucrose transport into sieve elements.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000088570900012

    View details for PubMedID 10899981

  • The molecular physiology of ammonium uptake and retrieval CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY von Wiren, N., Gazzarrini, S., Gojon, A., Frommer, W. B. 2000; 3 (3): 254-261


    Plants are able to take up ammonium from the soil, or through symbiotic interactions with microorganisms, via the root system. Using functional complementation of yeast mutants, it has been possible to identify a new class of membrane proteins, the ammonium transporter/methylammonium permease (AMT/MEP) family, that mediate secondary active ammonium uptake in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. In plants, the AMT gene family can be subdivided according to their amino-acid sequences into three subfamilies: a large subfamily of AMT1 genes and two additional subfamilies each with single members (LeAMT1;3 from tomato and AtAMT2;1 from Arabidopsis thaliana). These transporters vary especially in their kinetic properties and regulatory mechanism. High-affinity transporters are induced in nitrogen-starved roots, whereas other transporters may be considered as the 'work horses' that are active when conditions are conducive to ammonium assimilation. The expression of several AMTs in root hairs further supports a role in nutrient acquisition. These studies provide basic information that will be needed for the dissection of nitrogen uptake by plants at the molecular level and for determining the role of individual AMTs in nutrient uptake and potentially in nutrient efficiency.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000087028700013

    View details for PubMedID 10837267

  • Hypersensitivity of an Arabidopsis sugar signaling mutant toward exogenous proline application PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Hellmann, H., Funck, D., Rentsch, D., Frommer, W. B. 2000; 123 (2): 779-790


    In transgenic Arabidopsis a patatin class I promoter from potato is regulated by sugars and proline (Pro), thus integrating signals derived from carbon and nitrogen metabolism. In both cases a signaling cascade involving protein phosphatases is involved in induction. Other endogenous genes are also regulated by both Pro and carbohydrates. Chalcone synthase (CHS) gene expression is induced by both, whereas the Pro biosynthetic Delta(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase (P5CS) is induced by high Suc concentrations but repressed by Pro, and Pro dehydrogenase (ProDH) is inversely regulated. The mutant rsr1-1, impaired in sugar dependent induction of the patatin promoter, is hypersensitive to low levels of external Pro and develops autofluorescence and necroses. Toxicity of Pro can be ameliorated by salt stress and exogenously supplied metabolizable carbohydrates. The rsr1-1 mutant shows a reduced response regarding sugar induction of CHS and P5CS expression. ProDH expression is de-repressed in the mutant but still down-regulated by sugar. Pro toxicity seems to be mediated by the degradation intermediate Delta(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate. Induction of the patatin promoter by carbohydrates and Pro, together with the Pro hypersensitivity of the mutant rsr1-1, demonstrate a new link between carbon/nitrogen and stress responses.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000087666500037

    View details for PubMedID 10859207

  • A new family of high-affinity transporters for adenine, cytosine, and purine derivatives in arabidopsis PLANT CELL Gillissen, B., Burkle, L., Andre, B., Kuhn, C., Rentsch, D., Brandl, B., Frommer, W. B. 2000; 12 (2): 291-300


    In many organisms, including plants, nucleic acid bases and derivatives such as caffeine are transported across the plasma membrane. Cytokinins, important hormones structurally related to adenine, are produced mainly in root apices, from where they are translocated to shoots to control a multitude of physiological processes. Complementation of a yeast mutant deficient in adenine uptake (fcy2) with an Arabidopsis cDNA expression library enabled the identification of a gene, AtPUP1 (for Arabidopsis thaliana purine permease1), belonging to a large gene family (AtPUP1 to AtPUP15) encoding a new class of small, integral membrane proteins. AtPUP1 transports adenine and cytosine with high affinity. Uptake is energy dependent, occurs against a concentration gradient, and is sensitive to protonophores, potentially indicating secondary active transport. Competition studies show that purine derivatives (e.g., hypoxanthine), phytohormones (e.g., zeatin and kinetin), and alkaloids (e.g., caffeine) are potent inhibitors of adenine and cytosine uptake. Inhibition by cytokinins is competitive (competitive inhibition constant K(i) = 20 to 35 microM), indicating that cytokinins are transported by this system. AtPUP1 is expressed in all organs except roots, indicating that the gene encodes an uptake system for root-derived nucleic acid base derivatives in shoots or that it exports nucleic acid base analogs from shoots by way of the phloem. The other family members may have different affinities for nucleic acid bases, perhaps functioning as transporters for nucleosides, nucleotides, and their derivatives.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000086906200010

    View details for PubMedID 10662864

  • Amino acid transporters are localized to transfer cells of developing pea seeds PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Tegeder, M., Offler, C. E., Frommer, W. B., Patrick, J. W. 2000; 122 (2): 319-325


    To determine the nature and cellular localization of amino acid transport in pea seeds, two cDNA clones belonging to the AAP family of H(+)/amino acid co-transporters (PsAAP1 and PsAAP2) were isolated from a cotyledon cDNA library of pea (Pisum sativum L.). Functional expression in the yeast amino acid uptake mutants 22Delta6AAL and 22Delta8AA showed that PsAAP1 mediates transport of neutral, acidic, and basic amino acids. RNA-blot analyses showed that PsAAP1 is expressed in seeds and vegetative organs, including amino acid sinks and sources, whereas PsAAP2 could not be detected. For developing seeds, transcripts of PsAAP1 were detected in coats and cotyledons, with seed coats giving a weak signal. In cotyledons, expression was highest in epidermal-transfer-cell-enriched tissue. RNA in situ hybridization analysis showed that PsAAP1 was predominantly present in epidermal transfer cells forming the outer surface of cotyledons, which abuts the seed coats. Overall, our observations suggest that this transporter, which is localized in transfer cells of cotyledons, might play a role in the uptake of the full spectrum of amino acids released from seed coats.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000086903000002

    View details for PubMedID 10677425

  • Differential regulation of three functional ammonium transporter genes by nitrogen in root hairs and by light in leaves of tomato PLANT JOURNAL von Wiren, N., Lauter, F. R., Ninnemann, O., Gillissen, B., Walch-Liu, P., Engels, C., Jost, W., Frommer, W. B. 2000; 21 (2): 167-175


    To elucidate the role of NH4+ transporters in N nutrition of tomato, two new NH4+ transporter genes were isolated from cDNA libraries of root hairs or leaves of tomato. While LeAMT1;2 is closely related to LeAMT1;1 (75.6% amino acid identity), LeAMT1;3 is more distantly related (62.8% identity) and possesses two short upstream open reading frames in the 5' end of the mRNA and a particularly short N-terminus of the protein as unique features. When expressed in yeast mutants defective in NH4+ uptake, all three genes complemented NH4+ uptake. In roots of hydroponically grown plants, transcript levels of LeAMT1;2 increased after NH4+ or NO3- supply, while LeAMT1;1 was induced by N deficiency coinciding with low glutamine concentrations, and LeAMT1;3 was not detected. In aeroponic culture, expression of LeAMT1;1 and LeAMT1;2 was higher in root hairs than in the remaining root fraction. Growth of plants at elevated CO2 slightly decreased expression of LeAMT1;2 and LeAMT1;3 in leaves, but strongly repressed transcript levels of chloroplast glutamine synthetase and photorespiratory serine hydroxymethyl-transferase. Expression of LeAMT1;2 and LeAMT1;3 showed a reciprocal diurnal regulation with highest transcript levels of LeAMT1;3 in darkness and highest levels of LeAMT1;2 after onset of light. These results indicate that in tomato at least two high-affinity NH4+ transporters, LeAMT1;1 and LeAMT1;2, are differentially regulated by N and contribute to root hair-mediated NH4+ acquisition from the rhizosphere. In leaves, the reciprocally expressed transporters LeAMT1;2 and LeAMT1;3 are supposed to play different roles in N metabolism, NH4+ uptake and/or NH3 retrieval during photorespiration.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000085607300005

    View details for PubMedID 10743657

  • Intercellular transport and phloem loading of sucrose, oligosaccharides and amino acids. Photosynthesis: Physiology and Metabolism (R.C. Leegood, T.D. Sharkey, S. von Caemmerer, Eds.) (Advances in Photosynthesis 9) Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht Schobert C., Lucas W.J., Franceschi V.R. & Frommer W.B. 2000: 249-274
  • The regulation of assimilate allocation and transport International Conference on Assimilate Transport and Partitioning (ICATP 99) Hellmann, H., Barker, L., Funck, D., Frommer, W. B. CSIRO PUBLISHING. 2000: 583–94

    View details for DOI 10.1071/PP99189

    View details for Web of Science ID 000087919200012

  • Improving fertiliser use efficiency in agro-ecosystems and nutrient efficiency in plants 2nd European Conference on Plant Biotechnology (Phytosfere 99) von Wiren, N., Andre, B., Harling, H., Gojon, A., Patriarca, E., Merrick, M., Miller, A., Reiss, B., Frommer, W. B. ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV. 2000: 225–233
  • Cross-talk between ammonium transporters in yeast and interference by the soybean SAT1 protein MOLECULAR MICROBIOLOGY Marini, A. M., Springael, J. Y., Frommer, W. B., Andre, B. 2000; 35 (2): 378-385


    Ammonium uptake in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae involves three membrane transporters (Mep1, -2 and -3) belonging to an evolutionarily conserved protein family that also includes the rhesus (Rh) blood group polypeptides of erythrocytes. We show here that, in the 26972c mutant defective in NH4+ transport, the Mep1 protein carrying an amino acid substitution in its cytoplasmic C-terminus trans-inhibits the closely related Mep3 protein. The same mutation introduced into Mep3 leads to loss of transport activity and this inactive form also trans-inhibits native Mep3. Inhibition of Mep3 is post-translational and can be overcome by overexpression. These results are consistent with a direct interaction between Mep proteins, as is the case for the Rh polypeptides. The soybean GmSAT1 gene, recently cloned for its ability to complement the NH4+ transport defect of strain 26972c, has been described as an NH4+ channel protein involved in the transfer of fixed nitrogen from the bacteroid to the host plant. We show here that GmSAT1 contains a sequence homologous to the DNA-binding domain of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors. We also show that GmSAT1 restores NH4+ uptake in the yeast mutant by interfering with the inhibition of Mep3. Our results are not consistent with a direct role of GmSAT1 in ammonium transport.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000085242300012

    View details for PubMedID 10652098

  • Coordinated diurnal regulation of low- and high-affinity nitrate transporters in tomato PLANT BIOLOGY Ono, F., Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 2000; 2 (1): 17-23
  • Cloning and expression of amino acid transporters from broad bean PLANT MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Montamat, F., Maurousset, L., Tegeder, M., Frommer, W., Delrot, S. 1999; 41 (2): 259-268


    This work describes the isolation of a full-length (VfAAP2) and three partial amino acid transporter genes (VfAAPa, VfAAPb, VfAAPc) from broad bean (Vicia faba L.). The function of VfAAP2 was tested by heterologous expression in a yeast mutant deficient in proline uptake. VfAAP2 mediates proton-dependent proline uptake with an apparent Km of about 1 mM. Analysis of substrate specificity by competition experiments showed that aromatic amino acids, neutral aliphatic acids and L-citrulline are the best competitors, whereas basic amino acids do not compete with proline. Northern analysis indicates that all VfAAPs exhibit different patterns of expression. VfAAP2 is most strongly expressed in the stem and at a lower level in sink leaves and pods. VfAAPa, VfAAPb and VfAAPc are most strongly expressed in the flowers, but their expression in the other organs varies.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000083285500010

    View details for PubMedID 10579492

  • Taking transgenic plants with a pinch of salt. Science Frommer, W. B., Ludewig, U., Rentsch, D. 1999; 285 (5431): 1222-1223

    View details for PubMedID 10484731

  • Identification of a pollen-specific sucrose transporter-like protein NtSUT3 from tobacco FEBS LETTERS Lemoine, R., Burkle, L., Barker, L., Sakr, S., Kuhn, C., Regnacq, M., Gaillard, C., Delrot, S., Frommer, W. B. 1999; 454 (3): 325-330


    Pollen cells are symplasmically isolated during maturation and germination. Pollen therefore needs to take up nutrients via membrane carriers. Physiological measurements on pollen indicate sucrose transport in the pollen tube. A cDNA encoding a pollen-specific sucrose transporter-like protein NtSUT3 was isolated from a tobacco pollen cDNA library. NtSUT3 expression is detected only in pollen and is restricted to late pollen development, pollen germination and pollen tube growth. Altogether these data indicate that pollen is supplied not only with glucose, but also with sucrose through a specific sucrose transporter. The respective contribution of each transport pathway may change during pollen tube growth.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081477900032

    View details for PubMedID 10431832

  • Application of transgenic plants in understanding responses to atmospheric change PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT Heineke, D., Kauder, F., Frommer, W., Kuhn, C., Gillissen, B., Ludewig, F., Sonnewald, U. 1999; 22 (6): 623-628
  • Update on sucrose transport in higher plants 11th International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology Kuhn, C., Barker, L., Burkle, L., Frommer, W. B. OXFORD UNIV PRESS. 1999: 935–953
  • Three functional transporters for constitutive, diurnally regulated, and starvation-induced uptake of ammonium into arabidopsis roots PLANT CELL Gazzarrini, S., Lejay, L., Gojon, A., Ninnemann, O., Frommer, W. B., von Wiren, N. 1999; 11 (5): 937-947


    Ammonium and nitrate are the prevalent nitrogen sources for growth and development of higher plants. 15N-uptake studies demonstrated that ammonium is preferred up to 20-fold over nitrate by Arabidopsis plants. To study the regulation and complex kinetics of ammonium uptake, we isolated two new ammonium transporter (AMT) genes and showed that they functionally complemented an ammonium uptake-deficient yeast mutant. Uptake studies with 14C-methylammonium and inhibition by ammonium yielded distinct substrate affinities between

    View details for Web of Science ID 000080680200016

    View details for PubMedID 10330477

  • The dual function of sugar carriers. Transport and sugar sensing The Plant cell Lalonde, S., Boles, E., Hellmann, H., Barker, L., Patrick, J. W., Frommer, W. B., Ward, J. M. 1999; 11 (4): 707-26

    View details for PubMedID 10213788

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC144201

  • Sucrose transport into developing seeds of Pisum sativum L. PLANT JOURNAL Tegeder, M., Wang, X. D., Frommer, W. B., Offler, C. E., Patrick, J. W. 1999; 18 (2): 151-161


    The anatomy of developing pea seeds is characterized by transfer cells present in both coats and cotyledons at the maternal/filial interface. To determine the nature and cellular localization of sucrose transporters in pea seeds, a full-length clone of a sucrose/H+ symporter (PsSUT1) was isolated from a cotyledon cDNA library. Northern blot analyses of different organs showed that PsSUT1 is expressed in non-seed tissues, including sucrose sinks and sources. Within developing seeds, transcripts of PsSUT1 and PsAHA1 genes were detected in all tissues, while transcripts of a sucrose binding protein (GmSBP) were confined to cotyledon epidermal transfer cells. Signal intensities of PsSUT1 and PsAHA1 transcripts and protein products were most pronounced in the thin-walled parenchyma cells of seed coats and epidermal transfer cells of cotyledons. For cotyledons, the highest transporter densities were localized to those portions of plasma membranes lining the wall ingrowth regions of epidermal transfer cells. Responses of [14C]sucrose influx to metabolic inhibitors indicated that proton-coupled sucrose transport was operative in both seed coats and cotyledons. Cotyledon epidermal transfer cells were shown to support the highest sucrose flux. Maximal transport activity was found to account for the sucrose flux differences between seed tissues. Intercellular movement of the symplasmic tracer, 5-(6)-carboxyfluorescein (CF), demonstrated that symplasmic pathways interconnect the vascular tissues to thin-walled parenchyma transfer cells of seed coats and, for cotyledons, epidermal transfer cells to storage parenchyma cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000080474500004

    View details for PubMedID 10363367

  • LeProT1, a transporter for proline, glycine betaine, and gamma-amino butyric acid in tomato pollen PLANT CELL Schwacke, R., Grallath, S., Breitkreuz, K. E., Stransky, E., Stransky, H., Frommer, W. B., Rentsch, D. 1999; 11 (3): 377-391


    During maturation, pollen undergoes a period of dehydration accompanied by the accumulation of compatible solutes. Solute import across the pollen plasma membrane, which occurs via proteinaceous transporters, is required to support pollen development and also for subsequent germination and pollen tube growth. Analysis of the free amino acid composition of various tissues in tomato revealed that the proline content in flowers was 60 times higher than in any other organ analyzed. Within the floral organs, proline was confined predominantly to pollen, where it represented >70% of total free amino acids. Uptake experiments demonstrated that mature as well as germinated pollen rapidly take up proline. To identify proline transporters in tomato pollen, we isolated genes homologous to Arabidopsis proline transporters. LeProT1 was specifically expressed both in mature and germinating pollen, as demonstrated by RNA in situ hybridization. Expression in a yeast mutant demonstrated that LeProT1 transports proline and gamma-amino butyric acid with low affinity and glycine betaine with high affinity. Direct uptake and competition studies demonstrate that LeProT1 constitutes a general transporter for compatible solutes.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079506600007

    View details for PubMedID 10072398

  • Transporters for ammonium, amino acids and peptides are expressed in pitchers of the carnivorous plant Nepenthes PLANT JOURNAL Schulze, W., Frommer, W. B., Ward, J. M. 1999; 17 (6): 637-646


    Insect capture and digestion contribute substantially to the nitrogen budget of carnivorous plants. In Nepenthes, insect-derived nitrogenous compounds are imported from the pitcher fluid and transported throughout the plant via the vascular tissue to support growth. Import and distribution of nutrients may require transmembrane nitrogen transporters. Representatives of three classes of genes encoding transporters for the nitrogenous compounds ammonium, amino acids and peptides were identified in Nepenthes pitchers. The expression at the cellular level of an ammonium transporter gene, three amino acid transporter genes, and one peptide transporter gene were investigated in the insect trapping organs of Nepenthes. Expression of the ammonium transporter gene NaAMT1 was detected in the head cells of digestive glands in the lower part of the pitcher where NaAMT1 may function in ammonium uptake from the pitcher fluid. One amino acid transporter gene, NaAAP1, was expressed in bundle sheath cells surrounding the vascular tissue. To understand the locations where transmembrane transport could be required within the pitcher, symplasmic and apoplasmic continuity was probed using fluorescent dyes. Symplasmic connections were not found between cortical cells and vascular bundles. Therefore, the amino acid transporter encoded by NaAAP1 may be involved in transport of amino acids into the vascular tissue. In contrast, expression of the peptide transporter gene NaNTR1 was detected in phloem cells of the vascular tissue within pitchers. NaNTR1 may function in the export of nitrogen from the pitcher by loading peptides into the phloem.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000079755400005

    View details for PubMedID 10230062

  • Physiology and metabolism - talking through membranes. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. Frommer, W. 1999; 2 (3): 173-177
  • Ultrastructural effects in potato leaves due to antisense-inhibition of the sucrose transporter indicate an apoplasmic mode of phloem loading PLANTA Schulz, A., Kuhn, C., Riesmeier, J. W., Frommer, W. R. 1998; 206 (4): 533-543
  • The H+-sucrose cotransporter NtSUT1 is essential for sugar export from tobacco leaves PLANT PHYSIOLOGY Burkle, L., Hibberd, J. M., Quick, W. P., Kuhn, C., Hirner, B., Frommer, W. B. 1998; 118 (1): 59-68


    In many species translocation of sucrose from the mesophyll to the phloem is carrier mediated. A sucrose/H+-symporter cDNA, NtSUT1, was isolated from tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and shown to be highly expressed in mature leaves and at low levels in other tissues, including floral organs. To study the in vivo function of NtSUT1, tobacco plants were transformed with a SUT1 antisense construct under control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. Upon maturation, leaves of transformants expressing reduced amounts of SUT1 mRNA curled downward, and strongly affected plants developed chloroses and necroses that led to death. The leaves exhibited impaired ability to export recently fixed 14CO2 and were unable to export transient starch during extended periods of darkness. As a consequence, soluble carbohydrates accumulated and photosynthesis was reduced. Autoradiographs of leaves show a heterogenous pattern of CO2 fixation even after a 24-h chase. The 14C pattern does not change with time, suggesting that movement of photosynthate between mesophyll cells may also be impaired. The affected lines show a reduction in the development of the root system and delayed or impaired flowering. Taken together, the effects observed in a seed plant (tobacco) demonstrate the importance of SUT1 for sucrose loading into the phloem via an apoplastic route and possibly for intermesophyll transport as well.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000075955100007

  • The role of transient starch in acclimation to elevated atmospheric CO2 FEBS LETTERS Ludewig, F., Sonnewald, U., Kauder, F., Heineke, D., Geiger, M., Stitt, M., Muller-Rober, B. T., Gillissen, B., Kuhn, C., Frommer, W. B. 1998; 429 (2): 147-151


    Although increased concentrations of CO2 stimulate photosynthesis, this stimulation is often lost during prolonged exposure to elevated carbon dioxide, leading to an attenuation of the potential gain in yield. Under these conditions, a wide variety of species accumulates non-structural carbohydrates in leaves. It has been proposed that starch accumulation directly inhibits photosynthesis, that the rate of sucrose and starch synthesis limits photosynthesis, or that accumulation of sugars triggers changes in gene expression resulting in lower activities of Rubisco and inhibition of photosynthesis. To distinguish these explanations, transgenic plants unable to accumulate transient starch due to leaf mesophyll-specific antisense expression of AGP B were grown at ambient and elevated carbon dioxide. There was a positive correlation between the capacity for starch synthesis and the rate of photosynthesis at elevated CO2 concentrations, showing that the capability to synthesize leaf starch is essential for photosynthesis in elevated carbon dioxide. The results show that in elevated carbon dioxide, photosynthesis is restricted by the rate of end product synthesis. Accumulation of starch is not responsible for inhibition of photosynthesis. Although transgenic plants contained increased levels of hexoses, transcripts of photosynthetic genes were not downregulated and Rubisco activity was not decreased arguing against a role of sugar sensing in acclimation to high CO2.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000074338000005

    View details for PubMedID 9650579

  • Developmental control of H+/amino acid permease gene expression during seed development of Arabidopsis PLANT JOURNAL Hirner, B., Fischer, W. N., Rentsch, D., Kwart, M., Frommer, W. B. 1998; 14 (5): 535-544


    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 nonoverlapping 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.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000074442400003

    View details for PubMedID 9675899

  • Amino acid transport in plants TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE Fischer, W. N., Andre, B., Rentsch, D., Krolkiewicz, S., Tegeder, M., Breitkreuz, K., Frommer, W. B. 1998; 3 (5): 188-195
  • Structure and function of plasma membrane amino acid, oligopeptide and sucrose transporters from higher plants JOURNAL OF MEMBRANE BIOLOGY Rentsch, D., Boorer, K. J., Frommer, W. B. 1998; 162 (3): 177-190

    View details for Web of Science ID 000072876800001

    View details for PubMedID 9543490

  • Sucrose transport in higher plants INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF CYTOLOGY - A SURVEY OF CELL BIOLOGY, VOL 178 Ward, J. M., Kuhn, C., Tegeder, M., Frommer, W. B. 1998; 178: 41-71


    Presumably due to its physicochemical properties, sucrose represents the major transport form of photosynthetically assimilated carbohydrates in plants. Sucrose synthesized in green leaves is transported via the phloem, the long distance distribution network for assimilates in order to supply nonphotosynthetic organs with energy and carbon skeletons. At least in Solanaceae, sugar export seems to be a tightly regulated process involving a number of specific plasma membrane proteins. Significant progress in this field was made possible by the recent identification of plasma membrane sucrose transporter genes. These carriers represent important parts of the long-distance transport machinery and can serve as a starting point to obtain a complete picture of long-distance sucrose transport in plants. A combination of biochemical studies of transporter properties together with expression and localization studies allow specific functions to be assigned to the individual proteins. Furthermore, the use of transgenic plants specifically impaired in sucrose transporter expression has provided strong evidence that SUT1 transporter function is required for phloem loading. Physiological analyses of these plants demonstrate that sucrose transporters are essential components of the sucrose translocation pathway at least in potato and tobacco.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1998BJ87R00002

    View details for PubMedID 9348668

  • Cutting, ageing and expression of plant membrane transporters BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-BIOMEMBRANES Sakr, S., Noubahni, M., Bourbouloux, A., Riesmeier, J., Frommer, W. B., Sauer, N., Delrot, S. 1997; 1330 (2): 207-216


    The activity and the expression of sucrose, hexose and amino acid transporters were studied with fresh, cut or aged tissues and plasma membrane vesicles (PMV) of mature sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) leaves. Cutting and ageing both induced an increase of the transcripts coding for sucrose transporters and hexose transporters. No significant effect could be detected on the amino acid transporter transcripts with the probe used (aap1). A polyclonal serum directed against the Arabidopsis thaliana sucrose transporter (AtSUC1) reacted with a 42 kDa band of the sugar beet PMV, confirming previous biochemical identification of this band as a sucrose transporter. ELISA assays run with microsomal fractions and PMV using the AtSUC1 sucrose transporter probe indicated that ageing, and to a lesser extent cutting, increased the amount of sucrose transporter present in the plasma membrane. However, while cutting strongly stimulated proton-motive force driven uptake of sucrose in PMV, ageing only resulted in a slight stimulation. These data give evidence for transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational controls of the activity of the sucrose transporter by mechanical treatments. Proton-motive force driven uptake of 3-O-methylglucose and valine in PMV was strongly stimulated in PMV from aged tissues, although previous data had shown that cutting did not affect theses processes. Therefore, the plant cells possess various levels of control mechanisms that allow them to regulate fluxes of the main assimilates across the plasma membrane when their natural environment is directly or indirectly altered.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997YJ28800014

    View details for PubMedID 9408174

  • Regulation of mineral nitrogen uptake in plants PLANT AND SOIL VONWIREN, N., Gazzarrini, S., Frommer, W. B. 1997; 196 (2): 191-199
  • Macromolecular trafficking indicated by localization and turnover of sucrose transporters in enucleate sieve elements SCIENCE Kuhn, C., Franceschi, V. R., Schulz, A., Lemoine, R., Frommer, W. B. 1997; 275 (5304): 1298-1300


    The leaf sucrose transporter SUT1 is essential for phloem loading and long-distance transport of assimilates. Both SUT1 messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein were shown to be diurnally regulated and to have high turnover rates. SUT1 protein was detected by immunolocalization in plasma membranes of enucleate sieve elements (SEs) in tobacco, potato, and tomato. Analysis by in situ hybridization showed that SUT1 mRNA localizes mainly to the SE and is preferentially associated with plasmodesmata. Antisense inhibition of SUT1 expression under control of a companion cell (CC)-specific promoter indicated synthesis of SUT1 mRNA in the CC. These results provide evidence for targeting of plant endogenous mRNA and potentially SUT1 protein through phloem plasmodesmata and for sucrose loading at the plasma membrane of SE.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997WK64400040

    View details for PubMedID 9036853

  • Identification of mutants in metabolically regulated gene expression PLANT JOURNAL Martin, T., Hellmann, H., Schmidt, R., Willmitzer, L., Frommer, W. B. 1997; 11 (1): 53-62


    Sucrose is the main transported form of assimilates, but, significantly, it also regulates a variety of processes such as photosynthesis and carbon or nitrogen storage. The effects of high sucrose levels are mediated directly by modulation of gene expression. The regulation of storage protein accumulation, here patatin from potato tubers, was used as a model system to study sucrose mediated signal transduction. The transcriptional regulation of patatin genes in conserved in transgenic Arabidopsis, as shown by the analysis of expression of two classes of patatin promoters fused to uidA. Two distinctly different patterns of gene expression were observed. In roots, class I promoter expression is strongly dependent on the exogenous supply of sugars. 3-O-methylglucose induction indicates that the sensor is located upstream of hexokinase. In contrast, the class II promoter is constitutively active in root tips and hydatodes. The progeny of a homozygous class I line was mutagenized with ethyl methane sulphonate and screened for signal transduction mutants using a non-destructive screening system for GUS activity. Four mutants showing reduced sucrose responses (rsr) and two mutants with modified expression patterns (mep) regarding the root tip were identified. In backcross analyses, it was shown that rsr1-1 carries a recessive trans mutation whereas rsr4-1 seems to be a semi-dominant trans mutation in sugar-mediated gene regulation.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997WE29200005

    View details for PubMedID 9025302

  • Spatial and temporal expression of sucrose transport-related genes in developing cotyledons of Vicia faba L. PROTOPLASMA Harrington, G. N., Nussbaumer, Y., Wang, X. D., Tegeder, M., Franceschi, V. R., Frommer, W. B., Patrick, J. W., Offler, C. E. 1997; 200 (1-2): 35-50
  • Cell specific expression of three genes involved in plasma membrane sucrose transport in developing Vicia faba seed PROTOPLASMA Harrington, G. N., Franceschi, V. R., Offler, C. E., Patrick, J. W., Tegeder, M., Frommer, W. B., HARPER, J. F., Hitz, W. D. 1997; 197 (3-4): 160-173
  • AtPPK1, a putative protein kinase from thale cress. Plant Mol. Biol. Rep. Kwart , M. 1997; 35 (3): 389

    View details for DOI 10.1023/A:1017127426765

  • An ammonium transporter from Oryza sativa. Plant Mol. Biol. von Wirén, N. 1997; 35 (5): 681

    View details for DOI 10.1023/A:1017128507144

  • A family of putative chloride channels from Arabidopsis and functional complementation of a yeast strain with a CLC gene disruption JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Hechenberger, M., Schwappach, B., Fischer, W. N., Frommer, W. B., Jentsch, T. J., Steinmeyer, K. 1996; 271 (52): 33632-33638


    We have cloned four novel members of the CLC family of chloride channels from Arabidopsis thaliana. The four plant genes are homologous to a recently isolated chloride channel gene from tobacco (CLC-Nt1; Lurin, C., Geelen, D., Barbier-Brygoo, H., Guern, J., and Maurel, C. (1996) Plant Cell 8, 701-711) and are about 30% identical in sequence to the most closely related CLC-6 and CLC-7 putative chloride channels from mammalia. AtCLC transcripts are broadly expressed in the plant. Similarly, antibodies against the AtCLC-d protein detected the protein in all tissues, but predominantly in the silique. AtCLC-a and AtCLC-b are highly homologous to each other ( approximately 87% identity), while being approximately 50% identical to either AtCLC-c or AtCLC-d. None of the four cDNAs elicited chloride currents when expressed in Xenopus oocytes, either singly or in combination. Among these genes, only AtCLC-d could functionally substitute for the single yeast CLC protein, restoring iron-limited growth of a strain disrupted for this gene. Introduction of disease causing mutations, identified in human CLC genes, abolished this capacity. Consistent with a similar function of both proteins, the green fluorescent protein-tagged AtCLC-d protein showed the identical localization pattern as the yeast ScCLC protein. This suggests that in Arabidopsis AtCLC-d functions as an intracellular chloride channel.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996WA71300066

    View details for PubMedID 8969232

  • Transport mechanism of the cloned potato H+/sucrose cotransporter StSUT1 JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Boorer, K. J., Loo, D. D., Frommer, W. B., Wright, E. M. 1996; 271 (41): 25139-25144


    The transport mechanism of the potato StSUT1 H+/sucrose cotransporter expressed in Xenopus oocytes was investigated using the 2-electrode voltage clamp and radiotracer flux methods. Sucrose induced inward currents through the transporter that were dependent on the extracellular sucrose and H+ concentrations and the membrane voltage. The activation of StSUT1 by H+ and sucrose displayed Michaelis-Menten-type kinetics suggestive of a 1:1 H+:sucrose stoichiometry. This was confirmed by simultaneously measuring inward currents and sucrose flux in voltage-clamped oocytes. The apparent affinities K0.5 for H+ and sucrose were voltage-dependent. At -150 mV Ksuc0.5 was 0.5 +/- 0.07 mM at 10 microM H+o, and KH0.5 was 0.1 +/- 0.05 microM at 20 mM sucroseo. StSUT1 exhibited presteady-state transient currents, which relaxed with time constants between <1 and 4 ms and fitted to the Boltzmann equation: maximum charge transfer Qmax approximately 1.8 nanocoulombs; apparent valence z approximately 1; potential for 50% charge transfer V0.5 approximately -15 mV at 0.032 microM H+o and -45 mV at 10 microM H+o. The steady-state data were used to formulate a kinetic model for sucrose transport, and computer simulations were performed to obtain rate constants for the partial reaction steps. Our model is consistent with protons binding to StSUT1 before sucrose with both ligands transported simultaneously across the membrane.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VL69300013

    View details for PubMedID 8810269

  • Companion cell-specific inhibition of the potato sucrose transporter SUT1 PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT Kuhn, C., Quick, W. P., Schulz, A., Riesmeier, J. W., Sonnewald, U., Frommer, W. B. 1996; 19 (10): 1115-1123
  • Antisense inhibition of the sucrose transporter in potato: Effects on amount and activity PLANT CELL AND ENVIRONMENT Lemoine, R., Kuhn, C., Thiele, N., Delrot, S., Frommer, W. B. 1996; 19 (10): 1124-1131
  • Molecular approaches towards an understanding of loading and unloading of assimilates in higher plants International Conference on the Transport of Photoassimilates Rentsch, D., Frommer, W. B. OXFORD UNIV PRESS. 1996: 1199–1204


    The combination of two sets of molecular tools, namely yeast expression cloning and the possibility of constructing transgenic plants, has allowed analysis of the transport processes occurring at the plasma membrane in higher plants. To date, more than 30 different plant genes for plasma membrane transporters of sugars and amino acids have been identified, mainly by expression cloning. Furthermore, the functional expression of genes in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Xenopus oocytes has been applied to obtain detailed information on the biochemical properties of the transporters. The expression systems have also allowed the purification of the proteins for structural analysis and to study structure-function relationship using mutagenesis approaches. A number of mutants and transgenic plants defective in certain transport properties are available and these will help in understanding the physiology of the long-distance transport of assimilates.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VK06000010

    View details for PubMedID 21245249

  • Salt stress-induced proline transporters and salt stress-repressed broad specificity amino acid permeases identified by suppression of a yeast amino acid permease-targeting mutant PLANT CELL Rentsch, D., Hirner, B., Schmelzer, E., Frommer, W. B. 1996; 8 (8): 1437-1446


    A yeast mutant lacking SHR3, a protein specifically required for correct targeting of plasma membrane amino acid permeases, was used to study the targeting of plant transporters and as a tool to isolate new SHR3-independent amino acid transporters. For this purpose, an shr3 mutant was transformed with an Arabidopsis cDNA library. Thirty-four clones were capable of growth under selective conditions, but none showed homology with SHR3. However, genes encoding eight different amino acid transporters belonging to three different transporter families were isolated. Five of these are members of the general amino acid permease (AAP) gene family, one is a member of the NTR family, encoding an oligopeptide transporter, and two belong to a new class of transporter genes. A functional analysis of the latter two genes revealed that they encode specific proline transporters (ProT) that are distantly related to the AAP gene family. ProT1 was found to be expressed in all organs, but highest levels were found in roots, stems, and flowers. Expression in flowers was highest in the floral stalk phloem that enters the carpels and was downregulated after fertilization, indicating a specific role in supplying the ovules with proline. ProT2 transcripts were found ubiquitously throughout the plant, but expression was strongly induced under water or salt stress, implying that ProT2 plays an important role in nitrogen distribution during water stress, unlike members of the AAP gene family whose expression was repressed under the same conditions. These results corroborate the general finding that under water stress, amino acid export is impaired whereas proline export is increased.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996VE73200017

    View details for PubMedID 8776904

  • Preferential expression of an ammonium transporter and of two putative nitrate transporters in root hairs of tomato PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Lauter, F. R., Ninnemann, O., Bucher, M., Riesmeier, J. W., Frommer, W. B. 1996; 93 (15): 8139-8144


    Root hairs as specialized epidermal cells represent part of the outermost interface between a plant and its soil environment. They make up to 70% of the root surface and, therefore, are likely to contribute significantly to nutrient uptake. To study uptake systems for mineral nitrogen, three genes homologous to Arabidopsis nitrate and ammonium transporters (AtNrt1 and AtAmt1) were isolated from a root hair-specific tomato cDNA library. Accumulation of LeNrt1-1, LeNrt1-2, and LeAmt1 transcripts was root-specific, with no detectable transcripts in stems or leaves. Expression was root cell type-specific and regulated by nitrogen availability. LeNrt1-2 mRNA accumulation was restricted to root hairs that had been exposed to nitrate. In contrast, LeNrt1-1 transcripts were detected in root hairs as well as other root tissues under all nitrogen treatments applied. Analogous to LeNrt1-1, the gene LeAmt1 was expressed under all nitrogen conditions tested, and root hair-specific mRNA accumulation was highest following exposure to ammonium. Expression of LeAMT1 in an ammonium uptake-deficient yeast strain restored growth on low ammonium medium, confirming its involvement in ammonium transport. Root hair specificity and characteristics of substrate regulation suggest an important role of the three genes in uptake of mineral nitrogen.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996UY93000131

    View details for PubMedID 8755617

  • Systemic Acquired Resistance Mediated by the Ectopic Expression of Invertase: Possible Hexose Sensing in the Secretory Pathway. The Plant cell Herbers, K., Meuwly, P., Frommer, W. B., Metraux, J. P., Sonnewald, U. 1996; 8 (5): 793-803


    Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) has been reported to be associated with lesion-mimic mutants. Tobacco plants expressing vacuolar and apoplastic yeast-derived invertase (vaclnv and cwlnv, respectively) develop spontaneous necrotic lesions similar to hypersensitive responses caused by avirulent pathogens. Therefore, SAR and metabolic alterations leading to the activation of defense-related responses were studied in these plants. Defense-related gene transcripts, callose content, peroxidase activities, and levels of salicylic acid were found to be elevated. The defense reactions were accompanied by increased resistance toward potato virus Y and were measured as decreased viral spreading and reduced multiplication in systemic leaves of the transgenic plants. Interestingly, the accumulation of pathogenesis-related (PR) protein transcripts (PR-Q) and repression of photosynthetic gene transcripts (chlorophyll a/b binding protein) were inversely correlated and required the same threshold level of hexoses for induction and repression. Expression of a cytosolic yeast-derived invertase in transgenic tobacco plants with equally increased levels of sugars neither displayed SAR responses nor showed decreased levels of photosynthetic genes. It is suggested that hexose sensing in the secretory pathway is essential for mediating the activation of defense-related genes as well as repression of photosynthetic genes in vaclnv and cwlnv plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1105/tpc.8.5.793

    View details for PubMedID 12239401

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC161138

  • Systemic acquired resistance mediated by the ectopic expression of invertase: Possible hexose sensing in the secretory pathway PLANT CELL Herbers, K., MEUWLY, P., Frommer, W. B., Metraux, J. P., Sonnewald, U. 1996; 8 (5): 793-803
  • A soybean sucrose binding protein independently mediates nonsaturable sucrose uptake in yeast PLANT CELL Overvoorde, P. J., Frommer, W. B., Grimes, H. D. 1996; 8 (2): 271-280


    Heterologous expression of a cDNA encoding a 62-kD soybean sucrose binding protein in yeast demonstrates that this protein, independent of other plant proteins, mediates sucrose uptake across the plasma membrane. Sucrose binding protein-mediated sucrose uptake is nonsaturable up to 30 mM sucrose, is specific for sucrose, and is relatively insensitive to treatment with sulfhydryl-modifying reagents. Alteration of the external pH or pretreatment of the yeast cells with protonophores did not significantly affect the rate of 14C-sucrose uptake. This demonstrates that sucrose binding protein-mediated sucrose uptake is not dependent on H+ movement and delineates it from other plant sucrose transporters. Physiological characterization of sucrose uptake into higher plant cells has shown the presence of both saturable and nonsaturable uptake components. The nonsaturable mechanism is relatively insensitive to external pH, pretreatment with protonophores, and treatment with sulfhydryl-modifying reagents. Sucrose binding protein-mediated sucrose uptake in yeast mimics this physiologically described, but mechanistically undefined, nonsaturable sucrose uptake mechanism in higher plants. Functional characterization of the sucrose binding protein thus defines both a novel component of sucrose uptake and provides important insight into this nonsaturable sucrose uptake mechanism, which has remained enigmatic since its physiological description.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996TY08900012

    View details for PubMedID 8742712

  • Kinetics and specificity of a H+ amino acid transporter from Arabidopsis thaliana JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY Boorer, K. J., Frommer, W. B., Bush, D. R., Kreman, M., Loo, D. D., Wright, E. M. 1996; 271 (4): 2213-2220


    The amino acid transporter AAP1/NAT2 recently cloned from Arabidopsis thaliana was expressed in Xenopus oocytes, and we used electrophysiological, radiotracer flux, and electron microscopic methods to characterize the biophysical properties, kinetics, and specificity of the transporter. Uptake of alanine was H(+)-dependent increasing from 14 pmol/oocyte/h at 0.032 microM H+ to 370 pmol/oocyte/h at 10 microM H+. AAP1 was electrogenic; there was an amino acid-induced depolarization of the oocyte plasma membrane and net inward currents through the transporter due to the transport of amino acids favoring neutral amino acids with shortside chains. The maximal current (imax) for alanine, proline, glutamine, histidine, and glutamate was voltage and [H+]o-dependent. Similarly, the imaxH was voltage and [amino acid]o-dependent. The imax for both H+ and amino acid were dependent on the concentrations of their respective cosubstrates, suggesting that both ligands bind randomly to the transporter. The K0.5 of the transporter for amino acids decreased as [H+]o increased and was lower at negative membrane potentials. The K0.5 for H+ was relatively voltage-independent and decreased as [amino acid]o increased. This positive cooperativity suggests that the transporter operates via a simultaneous mechanism. The Hill coefficients n for amino acids and H+ were > 1, suggesting that the transporter has more than one binding site for both H+ and amino acid. Freeze-fracture electron microscopy was used to estimate the number of transporters expressed in the plasma membrane of oocytes. The density of particles on the protoplasmic face of the plasma membrane of oocytes expressing AAP1 increased approximately 5-fold above water-injected controls and corresponded to a turnover number 350 to 800 s-1.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996TR32000063

    View details for PubMedID 8567681

  • Seed and vascular expression of a high-affinity transporter for cationic amino acids in Arabidopsis PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Frommer, W. B., Hummel, S., Unseld, M., Ninnemann, O. 1995; 92 (26): 12036-12040


    In most plants amino acids represent the major transport form for organic nitrogen. A sensitive selection system in yeast mutants has allowed identification of a previously unidentified amino acid transporter in Arabidopsis. AAT1 encodes a hydrophobic membrane protein with 14 membrane-spanning regions and shares homologies with the ecotropic murine leukemia virus receptor, a bifunctional protein serving also as a cationic amino acid transporter in mammals. When expressed in yeast, AAT1 mediates high-affinity transport of basic amino acids, but to a lower extent also recognizes acidic and neutral amino acids. AAT1-mediated histidine transport is sensitive to protonophores and occurs against a concentration gradient, indicating that AAT1 may function as a proton symporter. AAT1 is specifically expressed in major veins of leaves and roots and in various floral tissues--i.e., and developing seeds.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995TL42100020

    View details for PubMedID 8618839


    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RU26900040

    View details for PubMedID 7667117

  • NTR1 ENCODES A HIGH-AFFINITY OLIGOPEPTIDE TRANSPORTER IN ARABIDOPSIS FEBS LETTERS Rentsch, D., Laloi, M., Rouhara, I., Schmelzer, E., Delrot, S., Frommer, W. B. 1995; 370 (3): 264-268


    Hterologous complementation of yeast mutants has enabled the isolation of genes encoding several families of amino acid transporters. Among them, NTR1 codes for a membrane protein with weak histidine transport activity. However, at the sequence level, NTR1 is related to rather non-specific oligopeptide transporters from a variety of species including Arabidopsis and to the Arabidopsis nitrate transporter CHL1. A yeast mutant deficient in oligopeptide transport was constructed allowing to show that NTR1 functions as a high affinity, low specificity peptide transporter. In siliques NTR1-expression is restricted to the embryo, implicating a role in the nourishment of the developing seed.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RR66800023

    View details for PubMedID 7656990



    Three amino acid transporter genes (AAP3-5) were isolated from Arabidopsis by complementation of a yeast mutant defective in histidine uptake. Transport is driven against a concentration gradient and sensitive to protonophores. Analysis of the substrate specificity demonstrates that the carriers have a broad substrate specificity covering the major transport forms of reduced nitrogen, i.e. glutamine and glutamate. The transporters have similar affinities for glutamate, glutamine, and alanine but differ with respect to valine, phenylalanine, histidine, arginine, and lysine. AAP3 and AAP5 efficiently transport arginine and lysine and are involved in basic amino acid transport. The predicted polypeptides of 53 kDa are highly hydrophobic with 12 putative membrane-spanning regions and show significant homologies to Arabidopsis amino acid transporters AAP1 and AAP2. Each of the genes has a different organ-specific expression in the plant. AAP3 is exclusively expressed in roots and AAP4 mainly in source leaves, stems, and flowers, whereas AAP5 is found in all tissues. The specific distribution in the plant and the different substrate specificities of AAP transporters may indicate that tissues differ both qualitatively and quantitatively regarding import or export of amino acids.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RH22600066

    View details for PubMedID 7608199



    A yeast strain deficient in secreted invertase but expressing a cytoplasmic sucrose synthase has been used to select for potato genes that enable growth on sucrose as the sole carbon source by suppressing the sucrose uptake deficiency. Besides the already known sucrose transporter gene (StSUT1), ten different suppressor clones were identified and characterized. One of these cDNAs (PCP1) enabled efficient growth of the mutant yeast strain and mediated uptake of radiolabeled sucrose. The cDNA encodes a protein of 509 amino acids which is highly hydrophilic and thus does not seem to represent a transporter. Sequence comparisons show that the protein contains zinc finger motifs and shares weak homologies with the Drosophila couch potato gene, which serves as a transcriptional regulator, indicating that PCP1 activates a silent endogenous sucrose uptake system. The other suppressor clones encode either putative transcriptional regulators, protein kinases or enzymes involved in thiamine biosynthesis, ferredoxin reduction or glutamyl tRNA reduction and suppress the phenotype by unknown mechanisms.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1995RJ77800013

    View details for PubMedID 7616968

  • Nitrogen uptake and its regulation in plants 17th Annual Riverside Symposium in Plant Physiology - Carbon Partitioning and Source-Sink Interactions in Plants Lauter, F. R., Ninnemann, O., Frommer, W. B. AMER SOC PLANT PHYSIOLOGISTS. 1995: 102–116
  • Transgenic plants as a tool to analyze carbohydrate metabolism International Symposium on Sucrose Metabolism - Sucrose Metabolism, Biochemistry, Physiology and Molecular Biology Kossmann, J., BerndMullerRober, Riesmeier, J., Frommer, W. B., Sonnewald, U., Willmitzer, L. AMER SOC PLANT PHYSIOLOGISTS. 1995: 100–106
  • TRANSPORTERS FOR NITROGENOUS COMPOUNDS IN PLANTS PLANT MOLECULAR BIOLOGY Frommer, W. B., Kwart, M., Hirner, B., Fischer, W. N., Hummel, S., Ninnemann, O. 1994; 26 (5): 1651-1670

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994QH87400024

    View details for PubMedID 7858208



    H(+)-ATPase cDNAs were identified in a potato leaf library using an Arabidopsis gene as a probe. Based on their sequences, the clones could be grouped into at least two classes. A similar classification was obtained from the analysis of sequence data from four tobacco genes. Both potato genes are expressed in all tissues analysed, higher levels of expression were found in leaves and stem than in roots and tubers. For both genes, no significant differences in level of expression could be detected under a variety of conditions such as cold treatment, anaerobiosis, sucrose induction or treatment with a synthetic cytokinin. Only 2,4-D and prolonged periods of darkness lead to a slight reduction in mRNA levels. The reduction in darkness was compensated after transfer of the plants back into the light. Expression of the ATPase genes remained constant in transgenic plants which are inhibited in phloem loading due to antisense inhibition of the sucrose transporter. On the other hand, expression of the sucrose transporter is inducible by auxin and cytokinin but not by sucrose. Taken together, these data suggest that at least the two plasma membrane H(+)-ATPase genes analysed are rather constant in their expression and that either other genes respond to external stimuli or that most of the regulation occurs at the posttranscriptional level.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PW96900017

    View details for PubMedID 8000010

  • IDENTIFICATION OF A HIGH-AFFINITY NH4+ TRANSPORTER FROM PLANTS EMBO JOURNAL Ninnemann, O., Jauniaux, J. C., Frommer, W. B. 1994; 13 (15): 3464-3471


    Despite the important role of the ammonium ion in metabolism, i.e. as a form of nitrogen that is taken up from the soil by microorganisms and plants, little is known at the molecular level about its transport across biomembranes. Biphasic uptake kinetics have been observed in roots of several plant species. To study such transport processes, a mutant yeast strain that is deficient in two NH4+ uptake systems was used to identify a plant NH4+ transporter. Expression of an Arabidopsis cDNA in the yeast mutant complemented the uptake deficiency. The cDNA AMT1 contains an open reading frame of 501 amino acids and encodes a highly hydrophobic protein with 9-12 putative membrane spanning regions. Direct uptake measurements show that mutant yeast cells expressing the protein are able to take up [14C]methylamine. Methylamine uptake can be efficiently competed by NH4+ but not by K+. The methylamine uptake is optimal at pH 7 with a Km of 65 microM and a Ki for NH4+ of approximately 10 microM, is energy-dependent and can be inhibited by protonophores. The plant protein is highly related to an NH4+ transporter from yeast (Marini et al., accompanying manuscript). Sequence homologies to genes of bacterial and animal origin indicate that this type of transporter is conserved over a broad range of organisms. Taken together, the data provide strong evidence that a gene for the plant high affinity NH4+ uptake has been identified.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PB90900007

    View details for PubMedID 8062823

  • EASY DETERMINATION OF PLOIDY LEVEL IN ARABIDOPSIS-THALIANA PLANTS BY MEANS OF POLLEN SIZE MEASUREMENT PLANT CELL REPORTS Altmann, T., DAMM, B., Frommer, W. B., Martin, T., Morris, P. C., Schweizer, D., Willmitzer, L., Schmidt, R. 1994; 13 (11): 652-656


    Cytogenetic examination of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. plants obtained by Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer to cotyledon- and root-explants or by direct gene transfer into protoplasts revealed a high percentage of tetraploid or aneuploid transformants. Depending on the transformation procedure used, 13% (root explant transformation), 33% (cotyledon explant transformation), or 38% (direct gene transfer) of the transformants showed aberrant ploidy levels. A good correlation between the ploidy level of a plant and the size of its pollen grains was observed. This allows quick and simple testing of the ploidy level of transgenic Arabidopsis plants.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994PA78200011

    View details for PubMedID 24196247



    In plants, many of the proteins involved in transport of nitrogenous compounds have not been identified so far. The use of heterologous complementation in yeast mutants has enabled the isolation of a gene family encoding amino acid permease (AAP). A highly sensitive selection procedure was used to identify other proteins capable of transporting amino acids. In addition to members of the AAP gene family, an integral membrane protein (NTR1) that shows significant similarities to the low affinity nitrate transporter from Arabidpsis and to peptide transporters from yeast and rabbit was identified. NTR1 seems to be involved in the supply of reproductive organs with nitrogen as it is expressed at low levels in leaves and highly in developing pods.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994NV02200017

    View details for PubMedID 8033999

  • Manipulation of sink-source relations in transgenic plants: a commissioned review. Plant Cell Environ. Sonnewald U., Lerchl J., Zrenner R. & Frommer W.B. 1994; 17: 649-658
  • Metabolic control of patatin promoters from potato in transgenic tobacco and tomato plants. Plant Physiol. (Life Sci. Adv.) Frommer W.B., Mielchen C. & Martin T. 1994; 13: 329-334


    Sucrose is the principal transport form of assimilates in most plants. In many species, translocation of assimilates from the mesophyll into the phloem for long distance transport is assumed to be carrier mediated. A putative sucrose proton cotransporter cDNA has been isolated from potato and shown to be expressed mainly in the phloem of mature exporting leaves. To study the in vivo role and function of the protein, potato plants were transformed with an antisense construct of the sucrose transporter cDNA under control of the CaMV 35S promoter. Upon maturation of the leaves, five transformants that expressed reduced levels of sucrose transporter mRNA developed local bleaching and curling of leaves. These leaves contained > 20-fold higher concentrations of soluble carbohydrates and showed a 5-fold increase in starch content as compared with wild type plants, as expected from a block in export. Transgenic plants with a reduced amount of sucrose carrier mRNA show a dramatic reduction in root development and tuber yield. Maximal photosynthetic activity was reduced at least in the strongly affected transformants. The effects observed in the antisense plants strongly support an apoplastic model for phloem loading, in which the sucrose transporter located at the phloem plasma membrane represents the primary route for sugar uptake into the long distance distribution network.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1994MV81000001

    View details for PubMedID 8306952

  • Sucrose synthases Plant Mol. Biol. Rep. Hannah, C., Frommer W.B., Su J.C, Chourey P., Park W. 1994; 12: S72
  • Transgenic potatoes changed in carbohydrate partitioning and allocation. Molecular and Cellular Biology of the Potato. (Belknap W., Vayda M.E. & Park W.D., eds) CAB International, Wallingford Willmitzer L., Frommer W.B., Koßmann J., Müller-Röber B., Riesmeier J., Sonnewald U., Flügge U.I. & Heldt H.W. 1994: 57-65


    A general amino acid permease cDNA (AAP2) was isolated from Arabidopsis by complementation of a yeast mutant defective in citrulline uptake. Direct transport measurements in yeast show that the protein mediates uptake of L-[14C]-citrulline and L-[14C]-proline. Detailed analyses of the substrate specificity by competition studies demonstrate that all proteogenic amino acids are recognized by the carrier, including those that represent the major transport forms of reduced nitrogen in many species, i.e. glutamine, glutamate and asparagine. Thus, AAP2 is less selective as compared with AAP1 and transports basic amino acids such as histidine as shown by expression in a histidine transport-deficient yeast strain. The predicted polypeptide of 53 kDa is highly hydrophobic with 12 putative membrane-spanning regions and shows significant homologies to the Arabidopsis broad specificity permease AAP1, and a limited homology to bacterial branched chain amino acid transporters, but not to any other known proteins. Alterations in the charged residues as compared with AAP1 in four regions might be involved in the difference in selectivity towards basic amino acids. Both genes are highly expressed in developing pods indicating a role in supplying the developing seeds with reduced nitrogen. AAP2 is selectively expressed in the stem and might therefore play a role in xylem-to-phloem transfer of amino acids during seed filling. Furthermore in situ hybridization shows that both genes are expressed in the vascular system of cotyledons in developing seedlings.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MK87100008

    View details for PubMedID 8281191



    The major transport form of assimilates in most plants is sucrose. Translocation from the mesophyll into the phloem for long-distance transport is assumed to be carrier mediated in many species. A sucrose transporter cDNA was isolated from potato by complementation of a yeast strain that is unable to grow on sucrose because of the absence of an endogenous sucrose uptake system and the lack of a secreted invertase. The deduced amino acid sequence of the potato sucrose transporter gene StSUT1 is highly hydrophobic and is 68% identical to the spinach sucrose transporter SoSUT1 (pS21). In yeast, the sensitivity of sucrose transport to protonophores and to an increase in pH is consistent with an active proton cotransport mechanism. Substrate specificity and inhibition by protein modifiers are similar to results obtained for sucrose transport into protoplasts and plasma membrane vesicles and for the spinach transporter, with the exception of a reduction in maltose affinity. RNA gel blot analysis shows that the StSUT1 gene is highly expressed in mature leaves, whereas stem and sink tissues, such as developing leaves, show only low expression. RNA in situ hybridization studies show that the transporter gene is expressed specifically in the phloem. Both the properties and the expression pattern are consistent with a function of the sucrose transporter protein in phloem loading.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MK55500011

    View details for PubMedID 8312741



    Sucrose synthase, an important enzyme in carbohydrate metabolism, catalyzes the reversible conversion of sucrose and UDP to UDP-glucose and fructose in vitro. To investigate the in vivo function of sucrose synthase, both the gene (Asus1) and a corresponding cDNA from roots of Arabidopsis were isolated. The Asus1 gene has homologies of 67-72% to sucrose synthase genes from other species. Histochemical GUS analysis of Arabidopsis and tobacco plants transformed with a 1.5 kb Asus1 promoter fragment transcriptionally fused to the beta-glucuronidase reporter gene showed that the Asus1 gene is expressed in the phloem of leaves, and in roots. Induction is found under conditions of limited ATP supply and increased demand for translocation of carbohydrates such as anaerobic or cold treatment. During anaerobiosis the increase in RNA level leads to increased sucrose synthase activity in roots. The expression pattern and regulation of the gene suggest that sucrose synthase is involved in the supply of energy for phloem loading in source tissues, and in metabolization of sucrose in sink tissues after unloading.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LT72100013

    View details for PubMedID 8220487



    To study amino acid transport in plants at the molecular level, we have isolated an amino acid permease cDNA from Arabidopsis thaliana by complementation of a yeast mutant defective in proline uptake with a cDNA. The predicted polypeptide of 53 kDa is highly hydrophobic with 12 putative membrane-spanning regions and shows no significant homologies to other known transporters. Expression of the cDNA enables the yeast mutant to take up L-[14C]proline. Competition studies argue for a broad but stereospecific substrate recognition by the permease, which resembles neutral or general amino acid transport systems from Chlorella and higher plants. Both pH dependence and inhibition by protonophores are consistent with a proton symport mechanism.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LM03500015

    View details for PubMedID 8327465



    The major chloroplast envelope membrane protein E29 is central for the communication between chloroplasts and cytosol. It has been identified as the triose phosphate translocator (TPT) exporting the primary products of the Calvin cycle (i.e., triose phosphates and 3-phosphoglycerate) out of the chloroplast in a strict counter exchange for Pi. To study the in vivo role of the TPT, transgenic potato plants were constructed that have a reduced expression of the TPT at both the RNA and protein level due to antisense inhibition. Chloroplasts isolated from these plants show a 20-30% reduction with respect to their ability to import Pi. The reduced TPT activity leads to a reduction of maximal photosynthesis by 40-60%, to a change in carbon partitioning into starch at the expense of sucrose and amino acids, and to an increase of the leaf starch content by a factor of approximately 3. At early developmental stages the inhibited plants are retarded in growth compared to the wild type.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LM03500059

    View details for PubMedID 11607409



    The export of primary photosynthesis products from chloroplasts into the cytoplasm is mediated by the triose phosphate translocator. The transporter is an integral membrane protein localized at the inner envelope of chloroplasts. In order to study the expression of the major chloroplast envelope protein gene E29, which is assumed to function as the translocator, we have isolated corresponding cDNA clones from potato. A full-length clone was sequenced and shown to be highly homologous to the E29 gene from spinach. Expression on the RNA level is restricted to green tissues, is light dependent and cannot be induced by sucrose in darkness. The presence of a single-copy gene argues for the existence of different translocator systems responsible for import and export of carbohydrates in chloroplasts and amyloplasts.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LB07000007

    View details for PubMedID 8492803

  • The role of metabolite transporters in higher plants. IBC Satellite Meeting "Transport and role of organic carbon/nitrogen in higher plants, Atami, Japan Frommer W.B., Riesmeier J.W., Kwart M., Hirner B., Kühn C., Martin T., Hummel S., Fischer W.N., Harms K., Wöhner R.V., Schulz B. & Willmitzer L. 1993: 1-7


    Active loading of the phloem with sucrose in leaves is an essential part of the process of supplying non-photosynthetic tissues with carbon and energy. The transport is protein mediated and coupled to proton-symport, but so far no sucrose carrier gene has been identified. Using an engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain, a cDNA from spinach encoding a sucrose carrier was identified by functional expression. Yeast strains that allow the phenotypic recognition of a sucrose carrier activity were constructed by expressing a cytoplasmic invertase from yeast, or the potato sucrose synthase gene, in a strain unable to transport or grow on sucrose due to a deletion in the SUC2 gene. A spinach cDNA expression library established from the poly(A)+ RNA from source leaves of spinach and cloned in a yeast expression vector yielded transformed yeast clones which were able to grow on media containing sucrose as the sole carbon source. This ability was strictly linked to the presence of the spinach cDNA clone pS21. Analysis of the sucrose uptake process in yeast strains transformed with this plasmid show a pH-dependent uptake of sucrose with a Km of 1.5 mM, which can be inhibited by maltose, alpha-phenylglucoside, carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone and p-chloromercuribenzenesulfonic acid. These data are in accordance with measurements using both leaf discs and plasma membrane vesicles from leaves of higher plants. DNA sequence analysis of the pS21 clone reveals the presence of an open reading frame encoding a protein with a molecular mass of 55 kDa. The predicted protein contains several hydrophobic regions which could be assigned to 12 membrane-spanning regions.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992KC83700004

    View details for PubMedID 1464305



    Plasma membrane vesicles (PMVs) were prepared by phase partitioning from microsomal fractions of either sink or source leaves of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.). The purity, the internal volume, the sidedness, and the sealingness of PMVs prepared from sink leaves did not differ from those measured with PMVs from source leaves. Yet, in response to an imposed proton motive force, PMVs from source leaves accumulated about 4-fold more sucrose than PMVs from sink leaves. The developmental stage did not affect the uptake of glucose and valine in PMVs prepared from leaf tissues. It was concluded that the sink/source transition is accompanied either by the incorporation into the plasma membrane of leaf cells of proteins mediating proton-sucrose cotransport, or by their activation. N-ethylmaleimide and a polyclonal ascitic fluid directed against the 42-kD region of the plasma membrane containing a putative sucrose carrier inhibited the uptake of sucrose in PMVs from source leaves, but not in PMVs from sink leaves. Sodium dodecyl sulfate gel electrophoresis and western blot suggested that the 42 polypeptide was more abundant in the PMVs from source leaves than in the PMVs from sink leaves.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1992JX82700011

    View details for PubMedID 16653098

  • Non-destructive assay systems for detection of b-glucuronidase activity in higher plants. Plant Mol. Biol. Rep. Martin T., Schmidt R., Altmann T. & Frommer W.B. 1992: 37-46
  • The GUS reporter system as a tool to study plant gene expression. GUS protocols: Using the GUS gene as a reporter of gene expression. (Gallagher S.R., ed.) Academic Press, San Diego Martin T., Wöhner R.V., Hummel S., Willmitzer L. & Frommer W.B. 1992: 23-43


    The molecular cloning and nucleotide sequence of elements from potato and pepper that are related to the recently identified Tst1 element are described. Sequence analysis reveals considerable conservation of sequences internal to both the Tst1 element and two of the related elements identified here. In six potato clones analysed, the 11 bp inverted repeat first identified in the Tst1 element is conserved. Several of the elements are flanked by an 8 bp direct repeat. DNA fragments which were amplified from several pepper genomes by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification using the inverted repeat as sequence primers also display considerable conservation of sequences internal to the Tst1 element. These data further support the possibility that Tst1 is a non-autonomous transposable element and that Tst1 might be the first example of a transposable element which occurs in several genera of solanaceous plants.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991GV59000020

    View details for PubMedID 1662769



    The class-specific expression of patatin genes was investigated by analysing four new patatin genes. A class I patatin gene from cv. Berolina as well as a class I and two class II patatin genes from the monohaploid cultivar AM 80/5793 were isolated and partially sequenced. Sequence comparison indicates rearrangements as the major source for the generation of diversity between the different members of the classes. The expression of single genes was studied in potato plants transformed with chimaeric genes where the putative patatin promoters were fused to the GUS reporter gene. A detailed histochemical analysis reveals that both class I genes are expressed as the previously described class I patatin gene B33 from cv. Berolina [1], i.e. in the starch-containing cells of potato tubers and in sucrose-induced leaves. The class II gene pgT12 shows the same pattern as the previously described class II gene pgT2 [2], i.e. expression in root tips and in the vascular tissue of tubers, whereas no activity was detectable for pgT4. Thus the expression pattern of both classes of genes seems to be stable at least within or even between different cultivars.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1991GQ54200003

    View details for PubMedID 1932691

  • Patatin, a bifunctional protein involved in pathogen defense and nitrogen storage? Commission of the European Community, Biological Sciences (Leonard A. & Durieux L., eds.) Frommer W.B., Borgmann K., Hesse H., Hildmann T., Hoefgen R., Hummel S. Koester-Toepfer M., Liu X., Martin T., Pena-Cortes H., Prat S., Rocha-Sosa M., Sanchez-Serrano J.J., Schmidt R., Sonnewald U., Stratmann M., Willmitzer L. 1991: 49-56
  • Patatin promoters as a tool to identify sink-related signal transduction pathways. Recent advances in phloem transport and assimilate compartmentation. (Bonnemain J.L., Delrot S., Lucas W.J. & Dainty J., eds.) Ouest editions, Nantes Frommer W.B., Martin T., Schmidt R., Hummel S. & Willmitzer L. 1991: 254-259
  • Characterization of the sink to source transition in potato tubers. Recent advances in phloem transport and assimilate compartmentation. (Bonnemain J.L., Delrot S., Lucas W.J., Dainty J., eds.) Ouest editions, Nantes Borgmann K., Sinha P., Willmitzer L. & Frommer W.B. 1991: 248- 253
  • Potato gene promoters and their applications. Molecular methods for potato improvement, CIP, Lima Frommer W.B., Sonnewald U., von Schaewen A., Prat S., Sanchez-Serrano J.J., Stockhaus J. & Willmitzer L. 1991: 65-71


    The 5'-upstream region of the class I patatin gene B33 directs strong expression of the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene in potato tubers and in leaves treated with sucrose. Cis-acting elements affecting specificity and level of expression were identified by deletion analysis in transgenic potato plants. A putative tuber-specific element is located downstream from position -195. Nuclear proteins present in leaf and tuber extracts bind specifically to a conserved AT rich motif within this region. A DNA fragment between -183 and -143, including the binding site is, however, not able to enhance the expression of a truncated 35S promoter from cauliflower mosaic virus. Independent positive elements contributing to a 100-fold increase relative to the basic tuber-specific element are located between -228 and -195; -736 and -509, -930 and -736 and -1512 and -951. Sucrose inducibility is controlled by sequences downstream of position -228, indicating that the tuber-specific and sucrose-inducible elements are in close proximity.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990EA61200007

    View details for PubMedID 2270080



    Potato tubers are modified stems that have differentiated into storage organs. Factors such as day-length, nitrogen supply, and levels of the phytohormones cytokinin and gibberellic acid, are known to control tuberization. Morphological changes during tuber initiation are accompanied by the accumulation of a characteristic set of proteins, thought to be involved in N-storage (i.e. patatin) or defense against microbial or insect attack (i.e. proteinase inhibitor II). Additionally, deposition of large amounts of starch occurs during tuber formation, which is paralleled by an increase in sucrose synthase and other enzymes involved in starch biosynthesis (i.e. ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase, starch synthases, and branching enzyme). Potential controlling mechanisms for genes expressed during tuberization are discussed.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990DU47400004

    View details for PubMedID 2200713



    The promoter of the PGT3 patatin gene belonging to the class II subfamily is highly homologous to other class II patatin genes except for a 736 bp insertion in front of the putative transcription start site. The insertion is characterized by structural features resembling a transposable element such as an 11 bp inverted repeat at the termini and an 8 bp duplication flanking the insertion site. Despite the high homology to active patatin genes, fusion of its promoter to the beta-glucuronidase reporter gene does not lead to detectable beta-glucuronidase (GUS) activity in transgenic potato or tobacco plants, suggesting that the inactivation of this gene might be caused by the insertion of the transposon like element.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990CT64300013

    View details for PubMedID 1966274



    A new member of the patatin gene family belonging to the class II subfamily was isolated and characterized by DNA sequencing. In order to study the expression profile of this gene, the promoter was fused to the beta-glucuronidase gene and transferred to potato and tobacco. Histochemical analysis revealed high expression in a few defined cells in potato tubers and in a specific layer of both potato and tobacco root tips. In contrast to the developmentally and metabolically regulated class I patatin gene B33 this gene was not inducible by elevated levels of sucrose. Expression of this chimaeric gene was also found in callus and suspension cultures of potato.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989CB87100008

    View details for PubMedID 2622451



    Patatin is one of the major soluble proteins in potato tubers and is encoded by a multigene family. Based on structural considerations two classes of patatin genes are distinguished. The 5'-upstream regulatory region of a class I gene contained within a 1.5 kb sequence is essential and sufficient to direct a high level of tuber-specific gene activity which was on average 100- to 1000-fold higher in tubers as compared to leaf, stem and roots in greenhouse grown transgenic potato plants when fused to the beta-glucuronidase reporter gene. Histochemical analysis revealed this activity to be present in parenchymatic tissue but not in the peripheral phellem cells of transgenic tubers. Furthermore the promoter fragment can be activated in leaves under conditions that simulate the need for the accumulation of starch in storage organs, i.e. high levels of sucrose. The expression is restricted to both mesophyll and epidermal cells in contrast to vascular tissue or hair cells.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989T348600004

    View details for PubMedID 16453867

  • THE DEVELOPMENT OF GENE-TRANSFER AND EXPRESSION SYSTEMS FOR POTATO JOINT CONF ON PARENTAL LINE BREEDING AND SELECTION IN POTATO BREEDING Willmitzer, L., Frommer, W. B., Hofgen, R., Koster, M., Liu, X. J., MIELCHEN, C., Prat, S., Recknagel, C., ROCHASOSA, M., Sonnewald, U., Stratmann, M., Vancanneyt, G. PUDOC. 1989: 112–116
  • Expression of foreign genes in potato: promoters, RNA stability and protein accumulation. Vortr. Pflanzenzüchtung Willmitzer L., Basner A., Frommer W.B., Höfgen R., Köster M., Liu X., Mielchen C., Prat S., Recknagel C., Rocha-Sosa M., Sonnewald U., Stratmann M. & VanCanneyt G. 1989: 423-439
  • The development of gene transfer and expression systems for potato. Parental line breeding and selection in potato breeding. (Louwes, Toussaint & Delluert, eds.) Pudoc Wageningen Willmitzer L., Frommer W.B., Höfgen R., Köster M., Liu X., Mielchen C., Prat S., Recknagel C., Rocha-Sosa M., Sonnewald U., Stratmann M. & VanCanneyt G. 1989: 112-117


    The chromatin structure of the 5'-upstream region of the Shrunken (Sh) gene in Zea mays has been examined. We have identified a region of DNase I hypersensitivity extending at least from the 3'-end of exon 1 for 2 kb into the 5'-flanking region. This region is composed of a set of closely spaced hypersensitive sites separated by small regions that are less accessible to DNase I. The most sensitive sites are located within 300 bp upstream of the transcription start site. Hypersensitive sites are found essentially at the same positions in kernels, roots and leaves, although the latter display different relative intensities. No changes are found in roots within the tested region upon anaerobic induction. Testing protein-free plasmid DNA containing the 5' upstream region of the Sh gene, we found a site sensitive to the single strand specific nuclease S1 located very close to a DNase I hypersensitive site identified in chromatin. Several hypersensitive sites are flanking in vitro binding sites of nuclear proteins as determined by Werr et al. (1988; accompanying paper).

    View details for Web of Science ID A1988N232600024

    View details for PubMedID 2841573

  • Chromatin structure of the sucrose synthase gene of Zea mays. Maize News Letters Frommer W.B., Franken P., Starlinger P. 1987; 61: 44
  • STRUCTURE OF THE SUCROSE SYNTHASE GENE ON CHROMOSOME 9 OF ZEA-MAYS-L EMBO JOURNAL Werr, W., Frommer, W. B., Maas, C., Starlinger, P. 1985; 4 (6): 1373-1380


    The structure of the shrunken gene of Zea mays encoding sucrose synthase (EC was determined by (i) sequencing the transcription unit and 1.2 kb of 5' -upstream sequences from a genomic clone, (ii) by sequencing a nearly full length cDNA clone and (iii) by determining the transcription start site by a combination of primer extension experiments with synthetic oligodeoxynucleotide primers and S1 mapping. The sucrose synthase gene is 5.4 kb long, of which 2746 bp are found in the mature mRNA. The gene is interrupted by 15 introns. The first two introns are 1 kb and 0.5 kb in length, respectively, while the other introns are much smaller. A TATA box is located 30 bp upstream from the transcription start site. Approximately 610 bp upstream of the transcription start site a direct repeat of 16 nucleotides, separated by a 4-fold repetition of the sequence GGTGG is detected. The 16-bp sequence has similarities to a sequence repeat found between two promoters of a maize zein gene also expressed in the endosperm tissue. The transposable element Ds in the mutant sh-m5933 and sh-m6233 alleles is inserted in the seventh and first intron, respectively. The genomic and cDNA clones were obtained from different maize lines. This allows the determination of polymorphic sites which are frequent in 3rd codon position and absent in 1st and 2nd codon positions. In addition, the 3' -untranslated sequence shows two duplications that may have arisen by the insertion and subsequent excision of transposable elements.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1985ALC7400003

    View details for PubMedID 16453615

  • TRANSPOSABLE ELEMENT-AC AND ELEMENT-DS AT THE SHRUNKEN, WAXY, AND ALCOHOL DEHYDROGENASE-1 LOCI IN ZEA-MAYS-L COLD SPRING HARBOR SYMPOSIA ON QUANTITATIVE BIOLOGY COURAGE, U., Doring, H. P., Frommer, W. B., Kunze, R., Laird, A., Merckelbach, A., MULLERNEUMANN, M., Riegel, J., Starlinger, P., Tillmann, E., Weck, E., Werr, W., Yoder, J. 1984; 49: 329-338

    View details for Web of Science ID A1984AEJ8000038

    View details for PubMedID 6099244

  • Genetic manipulation: Impact on man and society. (Arber W. et al., ed.) ISCU Press Cambridge University Press, Sydney Starlinger , P. 1984: 67-75
  • Plant transposable elements - factors in the evolution of the maize genome? Plant Genetics, UCLA Starlinger P., Courage U., Döring H.P., Frommer W.B., Kunze R., Laird A., Merckelbach A., Müller-Neumannn M., Tillmann E. & Werr W. 1984; 35: 251-270
  • Structure of the Shrunken locus on chromosome 9 Maize News Lett. Werr W., Frommer W.B., Starlinger P. 1984; 58: 56-57
  • Structure of the sucrose synthase gene of sucrose synthase gene of Zea mays chromosome 9 Maize News Lett. Werr W., Frommer W.B., Starlinger P. 1983; 57: 29
  • Transposable elements in plants. Plant molecular biology. (Goldberg R.B. ed.) Alan R. Liss Inc., New York Starlinger P., Courage-Tebbe U., Döring H.P., Frommer W.B., Tillmannn E., Weck E., Werr W. 1983: 423-434
  • Simplified preparations of blocked 2´-deoxynucleosides as starting materials for chemical and enzymatic synthesis Chemical and enzymatic synthesis of gene fragments. (Gassen H.G., Lang A. eds.) Verlag Chemie, Weinheim Fritz H.J., Frommer W.B., Kramer W., Werr W. 1982: 43-52