Rice DUR3 mediates high-affinity urea transport and plays an effective role in improvement of urea acquisition and utilization when expressed in Arabidopsis

Wei Hong Wang, Barbara Köhler, Feng Qiu Cao, Guo Wei Liu, Yuan Yong Gong, Song Sheng, Qi Chao Song, Xiao Yuan Cheng, Trevor Garnett, Mamoru Okamoto, Rui Qin, Bernd Mueller-Roeber, Mark Tester, Lai Hua Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


• Despite the great agricultural and ecological importance of efficient use of urea-containing nitrogen fertilizers by crops, molecular and physiological identities of urea transport in higher plants have been investigated only in Arabidopsis. • We performed short-time urea-influx assays which have identified a low-affinity and high-affinity (K m of 7.55μM) transport system for urea-uptake by rice roots (Oryza sativa). • A high-affinity urea transporter OsDUR3 from rice was functionally characterized here for the first time among crops. OsDUR3 encodes an integral membrane-protein with 721 amino acid residues and 15 predicted transmembrane domains. Heterologous expression demonstrated that OsDUR3 restored yeast dur3-mutant growth on urea and facilitated urea import with a K m of c. 10μM in Xenopus oocytes. • Quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis revealed upregulation of OsDUR3 in rice roots under nitrogen-deficiency and urea-resupply after nitrogen-starvation. Importantly, overexpression of OsDUR3 complemented the Arabidopsis atdur3-1 mutant, improving growth on low urea and increasing root urea-uptake markedly. Together with its plasma membrane localization detected by green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagging and with findings that disruption of OsDUR3 by T-DNA reduces rice growth on urea and urea uptake, we suggest that OsDUR3 is an active urea transporter that plays a significant role in effective urea acquisition and utilisation in rice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-444
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • High-affinity transporter
  • Leaf senescence
  • Nitrogen remobilization
  • OsDUR3
  • Overexpression
  • Rice plant
  • Urea transport and utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

Cite this