The heavy metal cadmium (Cd) is toxic to humans, and its accumulation in rice grains is a major agricultural problem. Rice has seven putative metal transporter NRAMP genes, but microarray analysis showed that only OsNRAMP1 is highly upregulated by iron (Fe) deficiency. OsNRAMP1 localized to the plasma membrane and transported Cd as well as Fe. OsNRAMP1 expression was observed mainly in roots and was higher in the roots of a high-Cd-accumulating cultivar (Habataki) than in those of a low-Cd-accumulating cultivar (Sasanishiki). The amino acid sequence of OsNRAMP1 in the Sasanishiki and Habataki cultivars was found to be 100% identical. These results suggest that OsNRAMP1 participates in cellular Cd uptake and that the differences observed in Cd accumulation among cultivars are because of differences in OsNRAMP1 expression levels in roots.
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