The putative Cationic Amino Acid Transporter 9 is targeted to vesicles and may be involved in plant amino acid homeostasis
Amino acids are constituents of proteins, precursors of many secondary metabolites and nitrogen carriers in plants. Transport across intracellular membranes and translocation of amino acids within the plant is mediated by membrane amino acid transporters. However, the amino acid transport in tea plant is rarely reported. In this study, six cationic amino acid transporter (CAT) family genes were cloned. Phylogenetic analysis categorized these CsCATs into four subgroups. These CsCATs all contain the 12–14 transmembrane domains and the conserved CAT motifs. Their expression was tissue-specific, with higher expression levels in root and stem and correlated to the abundances of key free amino acids such as Theanine. Some CsCATs expression responded to some abiotic stress conditions and to the exogenous application of theanine (Thea), glutamine or ethylamine hydrochloride, an ethylamine precursor for Thea biosynthesis. Our results indicated that the CsCATs expression is regulated by amino acid contents and is sensitive to abiotic stresses. These findings shed light on the mechanism of amino acid transport in tea plants.