Complexation of arsenite with phytochelatins reduces arsenite efflux and translocation from roots to shoots in Arabidopsis

Wen-Ju Liu, Barry Alan Wood, Andrea Raab, Steve P. McGrath, Fang-Jie Zhao, Jorg Feldmann

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206 Citations (Scopus)


Complexation of arsenite [As(III)] with phytochelatins (PCs) is an important mechanism employed by plants to detoxify As; how this complexation affects As mobility was little known. We used high-resolution inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and accurate mass electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry coupled to HPLC to identify and quantify As(III)thiol complexes and free thiol compounds in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) exposed to arsenate [As(V)]. As(V) was efficiently reduced to As(III) in roots. In wild-type roots, 69% of As was complexed as As(III)-PC4, As(III)-PC3, and As(III)-(PC2)(2). Both the glutathione (GSH)-deficient mutant cad2-1 and the PC-deficient mutant cad1-3 were approximately 20 times more sensitive to As(V) than the wild type. In cad1-3 roots, only 8% of As was complexed with GSH as As(III)-(GS)(3) and no As(III)-PCs were detected, while in cad2-1 roots, As(III)-PCs accounted for only 25% of the total As. The two mutants had a greater As mobility, with a significantly higher accumulation of As(III) in shoots and 4.5 to 12 times higher shoot-to-root As concentration ratio than the wild type. Roots also effluxed a substantial proportion of the As(V) taken up as As(III) to the external medium, and this efflux was larger in the two mutants. Furthermore, when wild-type plants were exposed to L-buthionine sulfoximine or deprived of sulfur, both As(III) efflux and root-to-shoot translocation were enhanced. The results indicate that complexation of As(III) with PCs in Arabidopsis roots decreases its mobility for both efflux to the external medium and for root-to-shoot translocation. Enhancing PC synthesis in roots may be an effective strategy to reduce As translocation to the edible organs of food crops.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2211-2221
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number4
Early online date1 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


  • gamma-glutamyYlcysteine synthetase
  • hyperaccumulator pteris-vittata
  • tolerant holcus-lanatus
  • long-distance transport
  • arsenate reductase
  • glutathione-deficient
  • silene-vulgaris
  • thiol-peptides
  • Indian mustard
  • plants


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