In roots of Arabidopsis thaliana, Zn can be either loaded into the xylem for translocation to the shoot or stored in vacuoles. Vacuolar storage is achieved through the action of the Zn/Cd transporter HMA3 (Heavy Metal Atpase 3). The Col-0 accession has an HMA3 loss-of-function allele resulting in high shoot Cd, when compared to accession CSHL-5 which has a functional allele and low shoot Cd. Interestingly, both Col-0 and CSHL-5 have similar shoot Zn concentrations. We hypothesize that plants sense changes in cytosolic Zn that are due to variation in HMA3 function, and respond by altering expression of genes related to Zn uptake, transport and compartmentalisation, in order to maintain Zn homeostasis. The expression level of genes known to be involved in Zn homeostasis were quantified in both wild-type Col-0 and Col-0::HMA3CSHL-5 plants transformed with the functional CSHL-5 allele of HMA3. We observed significant positive correlations between expression of HMA3 and of genes known to be involved in Zn homeostasis, including ZIP3, ZIP4, MTP1, and bZIP19. The results support our hypothesis that alteration in the level of function of HMA3 is counterbalanced by the fine regulation of the Zn homeostasis gene network in roots of A. thaliana.
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