A homolog of the mitochondrial succinate/fumarate carrier from yeast (Sfc1p) has been found in the Arabidopsis genome, named AtSFC1. The AtSFC1 gene was expressed in Escherichia coli, and the gene product was purified and reconstituted in liposomes. Its transport properties and kinetic parameters demonstrated that AtSFC1 transports citrate, isocitrate and aconitate and, to a lesser extent, succinate and fumarate. This carrier catalyzes a fast counter-exchange transport as well as a low uniport of substrates, exhibits a higher transport affinity for tricarboxylates than dicarboxylates, and is inhibited by pyridoxal 5′-phosphate and other inhibitors of mitochondrial carriers to various degrees. Gene expression analysis indicated that the AtSFC1 transcript is mainly present in heterotrophic tissues, and fusion with a green-fluorescent protein localized AtSFC1 to the mitochondria. Furthermore, 35S-AtSFC1 antisense lines were generated and characterized at metabolic and physiological levels in different organs and at various developmental stages. Lower expression of AtSFC1 reduced seed germination and impaired radicle growth, a phenotype that was related to reduced respiration rate. These findings demonstrate that AtSFC1 might be involved in storage oil mobilization at the early stages of seedling growth and in nitrogen assimilation in root tissue by catalyzing citrate/isocitrate or citrate/succinate exchanges.

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