CAX-ing a wide net: Cation/H+ transporters in metal remediation and abiotic stress signaling

Jon Pittman, K D Hirschi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cation/proton exchangers (CAXs) are a class of secondary energised ion transporter that are being implicated in an increasing range of cellular and physiological functions. CAXs are primarily Ca2+ efflux transporters that mediate the sequestration of Ca2+ from the cytosol, usually into the vacuole. Some CAX isoforms have broad substrate specificity, providing the ability to transport trace metal ions such as Mn2+ and Cd2+, as well as Ca2+. In recent years, genomic analyses have begun to uncover the expansion of CAXs within the green lineage and their presence within non-plant species. Although there appears to be significant conservation in tertiary structure of CAX proteins, there is diversity in function of CAXs between species and individual isoforms. For example, in halophytic plants, CAXs have been recruited to play a role in salt tolerance, while in metal hyperaccumulator plants CAXs are implicated in cadmium transport and tolerance. CAX proteins are involved in various abiotic stress response pathways, in some cases as a modulator of cytosolic Ca2+ signalling, but in some situations there is evidence of CAXs acting as a pH regulator. The metal transport and abiotic stress tolerance functions of CAXs make them attractive targets for biotechnology, whether to provide mineral nutrient biofortification or toxic metal bioremediation. The study of non-plant CAXs may also provide insight into both conserved and novel transport mechanisms and functions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)741-749
    JournalPlant Biology
    Issue number5
    Early online date4 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2016


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