Identification of a novel system for boron transport: Atr1 is a main boron exporter in yeast
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Boron is a micronutrient in plants and animals, but its specific roles in cellular processes are not known. To understand boron transport and functions, we screened a yeast genomic DNA library for genes that confer resistance to the element in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Thirty boron-resistant transformants were isolated, and they all contained the ATR1 (YML116w) gene. Atr1 is a multidrug resistance transport protein belonging to the major facilitator superfamily. C-terminal green fluorescent protein-tagged Atr1 localized to the cell membrane and vacuole, and ATR1 gene expression was upregulated by boron and several stress conditions. We found that atr1△ mutants were highly sensitive to boron treatment, whereas cells overexpressing ATR1 were boron resistant. In addition, atr1△ cells accumulated boron, whereas ATR1-overexpressing cells had low intracellular levels of the element. Furthermore, atr1△ cells showed stronger boron-dependent phenotypes than mutants deficient in genes previously reported to be implicated in boron metabolism. ATR1 is widely distributed in bacteria, archaea, and lower eukaryotes. Our data suggest that Atr1 functions as a boron efflux pump and is required for boron tolerance.