New insight into unique sugar transport in plants

ScienceDaily | 1/25/2019 | Staff
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Sugar is generated in plant leaves by photosynthesis, and is transported as the disaccharide sucrose to other parts of the plant through the sieve tissue. In sink tissues such as roots, pollen and fruits, the plant can absorb the sugar either as sucrose or, after cleavage, as the monosaccharides glucose and fructose.

Uptake of glucose and other monosaccharides is driven by STPs that move sugar through the otherwise impermeable cell membrane using an acid gradient. These proteins have some specific properties compared to similar proteins from animals or bacteria. They have an extremely high affinity for sugar; in fact, they bind 1000 times more strongly to sugars than similar proteins in humans. At the same time they maintain a very high level of activity over a broad pH spectrum compared to other acid-driven sugar transporters.

World - Group - Researchers - Department - Molecular

As the first in the world, a small group of researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University in Denmark has solved a structure of a STP sugar transport protein. With this, the researchers have been able to provide explanations for the particular transport characteristics of STPs.

STPs are proteins located in the cell membrane, and these are very difficult to work with. Therefore, it often takes many years to obtain new results, and this has also been the case with this study, where the researchers have had to change strategy and apply new methods several times.

Process - Way - Results - Methods - Quality

"It has been an extremely challenging process. Along the way, we have had to let go of very promising results and start all over with new methods because the quality of the data from the traditional structural methods was simply not good enough," says Postdoc Peter Aasted Paulsen, who, as first author, describes the results in the journal Nature Communications. "It has been frustrating to let go of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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