Furukawa J, Yamaji N, Wang H, Mitani N, Murata Y, Sato K, Katsuhara M, Takeda K, Ma JF.
Soluble ionic aluminum (Al) inhibits root growth and reduces crop production on acid soils. Al-resistant cultivars of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) detoxify Al by secreting citrate from the roots, but the responsible gene has not been identified yet. Here, we identified a gene (HvAACT1) responsible for the Al-activated citrate secretion by fine mapping combined with microarray analysis, using an Al-resistant cultivar, Murasakimochi, and an Al-sensitive cultivar, Morex. This gene belongs to the multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) family and was constitutively expressed mainly in the roots of the Al-resistant barley cultivar. Heterologous expression of HvAACT1 in Xenopus oocytes showed efflux activity for (14)C-labeled citrate, but not for malate. Two-electrode voltage clamp analysis also showed transport activity of citrate in the HvAACT1-expressing oocytes in the presence of Al. Overexpression of this gene in tobacco enhanced citrate secretion and Al resistance compared with the wild-type plants. Transiently expressed green fluorescent protein-tagged HvAACT1 was localized at the plasma membrane of the onion epidermal cells, and immunostaining showed that HvAACT1 was localized in the epidermal cells of the barley root tips. A good correlation was found between the expression of HvAACT1 and citrate secretion in 10 barley cultivars differing in Al resistance. Taken together, our results demonstrate that HvAACT1 is an Al-activated citrate transporter responsible for Al resistance in barley.