Two metallothionein genes highly expressed in rice nodes are involved in distribution of Zn to the grain

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25 Citations (Scopus)


A rice node is a hub for distribution of mineral elements; however, most genes highly expressed in the node have not been functionally characterized. Transcriptomic analysis of a rice node revealed that two metallothionein genes, OsMT2b and OsMT2c, were highly expressed in the node I. We functionally characterized these genes in terms of gene expression pattern, cellular and subcellular localization, phenotypic analysis of the single and double knockout mutants and metal-binding ability. Both OsMT2b and OsMT2c were mainly and constitutively expressed in the phloem region of enlarged and diffuse vascular bundles in the nodes and of the anther. Knockout of either OsMT2b or OsMT2c increased zinc (Zn) accumulation in the nodes, but decreased Zn distribution to the panicle, resulting in decreased grain yield. A double mutant, osmt2bmt2c, showed further negative effects on the Zn distribution and grain yield. By contrast, knockout of OsMT2b had a small effect on copper (Cu) accumulation. Both OsMT2b and OsMT2c showed binding ability with Zn, whereas only OsMT2b showed binding ability with Cu in yeast. Our results suggest that both OsMT2b and OsMT2c play an important role mainly in the distribution of Zn to grain through chelation and subsequent transport of Zn in the phloem in rice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1020
Number of pages14
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • copper
  • distribution
  • metallothionein
  • node
  • phloem
  • rice
  • transport
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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