Saturday, January 9, 2010

Non-technical summary of Ferroportin paper

Here is a non-technical summary of our recent Ferroportin paper in Plant Cell.

Iron (Fe) is an essential element for both plants and animals, with insufficient Fe causing reduced plant growth and severe human health effects including anemia. While the basic mechanisms that plants use to take up Fe from the soil is known, relatively little is known about how the Fe is moved through the root to the vasculature, which takes it up to the shoot. Here we characterize two genes related to the mammalian Fe transporter, Ferrroportin, FPN1 and FPN2, in the model plant Arabidopsis Thaliana. The two proteins are expressed in different cell layers and go to two different cellular locations. FPN1 is localized to the plasma membrane (the cells outer layer) and is expressed around the vasculature, suggesting that it is involved in loading Fe into the vasculature. FPN2 is localized to the vacuole, an internal storage compartment that performs a variety of functions, and is expressed in the outer root layers. This suggests that FPN2 is working to buffer the levels of Fe in these cells by sequestering Fe in the vacuole. Consistent with these roles, we show that lines where these genes are disrupted have altered responses to Fe deficient conditions. We also show that these genes are involved in the homeostasis of Co, which is chemically similar to Fe but can be toxic to plants.

you can find the paper here (also available from our publications page)