Magnesium is an important divalent ion for organisms. There have been a number of studies in vitro suggesting that magnesium affects enzyme activity. Surprisingly, there have been few studies to determine the cellular mechanism for magnesium regulation. We wished to determine if magnesium levels could be regulated in vivo. It is known that Saccharomyces cerevisiae has two magnesium transporters (ALR1 and ALR2) across the plasma membrane. We created S. cerevisiae strains with deletion of one (alr1 or alr2) or both (alr1 alr2) transporters. The deletion of ALR1 resulted in a decrease in intracellular magnesium levels. An increase from 5 to 100 mM in the exogenous magnesium level increased the intracellular levels of magnesium in the alr1 and alr1 alr2 strains, whereas the expression of magnesium transporters from S. cerevisiae or Arabidopsis thaliana led to a change of the intracellular levels of magnesium in those strains. The deletion of magnesium transporters in A. cerevisiae and overexpression of magnesium transporters from A. thaliana also affected the intracellular concentrations of a range of metal ions, which suggests that cells use non-specific transporters to help regulate metal homeostasis.
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