BAT1, a bidirectional amino acid transporter in Arabidopsis
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The Arabidopsis thaliana At2g01170 gene is annotated as a putative gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) permease based on its sequence similarity to a yeast GABA transporting gene (UGA4). A cDNA of At2g01170 was expressed in yeast and analyzed for amino acid transport activity. Both direct measurement of amino acid transport and yeast growth experiments demonstrated that the At2g01170 encoded-protein exhibits transport activity for alanine, arginine, glutamate and lysine, but not for GABA or proline. Significantly, unlike other amino acid transporters described in plants to date, At2g01170 displayed both export and import activity. Based on that observation, it was named bidirectional amino acid transporter 1 (BAT1). Sequence comparisons show BAT1 is not a member of any previously defined amino acid transporter family. It does share, however, several conserved protein domains found in a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic amino acid transporters, suggesting membership in an ancient family of transporters. BAT1 is a single copy gene in the Arabidopsis genome, and its mRNA is ubiquitously expressed in all organs. A transposon-GUS gene-trap insert in the BAT1 gene displays GUS localization in the vascular tissues (Dundar in Ann Appl Biol, 2009) suggesting BAT1 may function in amino acid export from the phloem into sink tissues.