Zinc (Zn) is an essential micronutrient for plants, playing catalytic or structural roles in enzymes, transcription factors, ribosomes, and membranes. In humans, Zn deficiency is the second most common mineral nutritional disorder, affecting around 30% of the world's population. People living in poverty usually have diets based on milled cereals, which contain low Zn concentrations. Biofortification of crops is an attractive cost-effective solution for low mineral dietary intake. In order to increase the amounts of bioavailable Zn in crop edible portions, it is necessary to understand how plants take up, distribute, and store Zn within their tissues, as well as to characterize potential candidate genes for biotechnological manipulation. The metal tolerance proteins (MTP) were described as metal efflux transporters from the cytoplasm, transporting mainly Zn2+ but also Mn2+, Fe2+, Cd2+, Co2+, and Ni2+. Substrate specificity appears to be conserved in phylogenetically related proteins. MTPs characterized so far in plants have a role in general Zn homeostasis and tolerance to Zn excess; in tolerance to excess Mn and also in the response to iron (Fe) deficiency. More recently, the first MTPs in crop species have been functionally characterized. In Zn hyperaccumulator plants, the MTP1 protein is related to hypertolerance to elevated Zn concentrations. Here, we review the current knowledge on this protein family, as well as biochemical functions and physiological roles of MTP transporters in Zn hyperaccumulators and non-accumulators. The potential applications of MTP transporters in biofortification efforts are discussed.
Ricachenevsky, F.K.; Menguer, P.K.; Sperotto, R.A.; Williams, L.E.; Fett, J.P. Roles of plant metal tolerance proteins (MTP) in metal storage and potential use in biofortification strategies. Frontiers in Plant Science (2013) 4: 144. [DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00144]