Sucrose transporters (SUTs) play important roles in regulating the translocation of assimilates from source to sink tissues. Identification and characterization of new SUTs in economically important crops such as wheat provide insights into their role in determining seed yield. To date, however, only one SUT of wheat has been reported and functionally characterized. The present study reports the isolation and characterization of a new SUT, designated as TaSUT2, and its homeologues (TaSUT2A, TaSUT2B and TaSUT2D) in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.).
TaSUT2A and TaSUT2B genes each encode a protein with 506 amino acids, whereas TaSUT2D encodes a protein of 508 amino acids. The molecular mass of these proteins is predicted to be ~ 54 kDA. Topological analysis of the amino acid sequences of the three homeologues revealed that they contain 12 transmembrane spanning helices, which are described as distinct characteristic features of glycoside-pentoside-hexuronide cation symporter family that includes all known plant SUTs, and a histidine residue that appears to be localized at and associated conformationally with the sucrose binding site. Yeast SUSY7/ura3 strain cells transformed with TaSUT2A, TaSUT2B and TaSUT2D were able to uptake sucrose and grow on a medium containing sucrose as a sole source of carbon; however, our subcellular localization study with plant cells revealed that TaSUT2 is localized to the tonoplast. The expression of TaSUT2 was detected in the source, including flag leaf blade, flag leaf sheath, peduncle, glumes, palea and lemma, and sink (seed) tissues. The relative contributions of the three genomes of wheat to the total expression of TaSUT2 appear to differ with tissues and developmental stages. At the cellular level, TaSUT2 is expressed mainly in the vein of developing seeds and subepidermal mesophyll cells of the leaf blade.
This study demonstrated that TaSUT2 is a new wheat SUT protein. Given that TaSUT2 is localized to the tonoplast and sucrose is temporarily stored in the vacuoles of both source and sink tissues, our data imply that TaSUT2 is involved in the intracellular partitioning of sucrose, particularly between the vacuole and cytoplasm.||