15 March 2012
Arsenic and antimony are toxic metalloids, naturally present in the environment and all organisms have developed pathways for their detoxification. The most effective metalloid tolerance systems in eukaryotes include downregulation of metalloid uptake, efflux out of the cell, and complexation with phytochelatin or glutathione followed by sequestration into the vacuole. Understanding of arsenic and antimony transport system is of high importance due to the increasing usage of arsenic-based drugs in the treatment of certain types of cancer and diseases caused by protozoan parasites as well as for the development of bio- and phytoremediation strategies for metalloid polluted areas. However, in contrast to prokaryotes, the knowledge about specific transporters of arsenic and antimony and the mechanisms of metalloid transport in eukaryotes has been very limited for a long time. Here, we review the recent advances in understanding of arsenic and antimony transport pathways in eukaryotes, including a dual role of aquaglyceroporins in uptake and efflux of metalloids, elucidation of arsenic transport mechanism by the yeast Acr3 transporter and its role in arsenic hyperaccumulation in ferns, identification of vacuolar transporters of arsenic-phytochelatin complexes in plants and forms of arsenic substrates recognized by mammalian ABC transporters.