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Free Content Malate transport by the vacuolar AtALMT6 channel in guard cells is subject to multiple regulation

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Gas exchange in plants is controlled by guard cells, specialized cells acting as turgor pressure‐driven valves. Malate is one of the major anions accumulated inside the vacuole during stomatal opening counteracting the positive charge of potassium. AtALMT6, a member of the aluminum‐activated malate transporter family, is expressed in guard cells of leaves and stems as well as in flower organs of Arabidopsis thaliana. An AtALMT6‐GFP fusion protein was targeted to the vacuolar membrane both in transient and stable expression systems. Patch‐clamp experiments on vacuoles isolated from AtALMT6‐GFP over‐expressing Arabidopsis plants revealed large inward‐rectifying malate currents only in the presence of micromolar cytosolic calcium concentrations. Further analyses showed that vacuolar pH and cytosolic malate regulate the threshold of activation of AtALMT6‐mediated currents. The interplay of these two factors determines the AtALMT6 function as a malate influx or efflux channel depending on the tonoplast potential. Guard cell vacuoles isolated from Atalmt6 knock‐out plants displayed reduced malate currents compared with wild‐type vacuoles. This reduction, however, was not accompanied by phenotypic differences in the stomatal movements in knock‐out plants, probably because of functional redundancy of malate transporters in guard cell vacuoles.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Plant Biology, University of Zurich, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland 2: Institute of Biophysics, National Research Council of Italy, I-16149 Genoa, Italy

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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