Phytochelatin synthase OsPCS1 plays a crucial role in reducing arsenic levels in rice grains
Reduction of the level of arsenic (As) in rice grains is an important challenge for agriculture. A recent study reported that the OsABCC1 transporter prevents the accumulation of As in grains by sequestering As–phytochelatin complexes into vacuoles in the upper nodes. However, how phytochelatins are provided in response to As remains unclear. Here, we show that the phytochelatin synthase OsPCS1 plays a crucial role in reducing As levels in rice grains. Using a forward genetic approach, we isolated two rice mutants (has1 and has2) in which As levels were much higher in grains but significantly lower in node I compared with the wild type. Map‐based cloning identified the genes responsible as OsABCC1 in has1 and OsPCS1 in has2. The levels of As in grains and node I were similar between the two mutants, suggesting that OsABCC1 preferentially cooperates with OsPCS1 to sequester As, although rice has another phytochelatin synthase, OsPCS2. An in vitro phytochelatin synthesis assay indicated that OsPCS1 was more sensitive to activation by As than by cadmium, whereas OsPCS2 was more weakly activated by As than by cadmium. Transgenic plants highly expressing OsPCS1 showed significantly lower As levels in grains than did wild‐type plants. Our results provide new knowledge of the relative contribution of rice PCS paralogs to As sequestration and suggest a good candidate tool to reduce As levels in rice grains.
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