The K+ channel KZM2 is involved in stomatal movement by modulating inward K+ currents in maize guard cells
Stomata are the major gates in plant leaf that allow water and gas exchange, which is essential for plant transpiration and photosynthesis. Stomatal movement is mainly controlled by the ion channels and transporters in guard cells. In Arabidopsis, the inward Shaker K+ channels, such as KAT1 and KAT2, are responsible for stomatal opening. However, the characterization of inward K+ channels in maize guard cells is limited. In the present study, we identified two KAT1‐like Shaker K+ channels, KZM2 and KZM3, which were highly expressed in maize guard cells. Subcellular analysis indicated that KZM2 and KZM3 can localize at the plasma membrane. Electrophysiological characterization in HEK293 cells revealed that both KZM2 and KZM3 were inward K+ (Kin) channels, but showing distinct channel kinetics. When expressed in Xenopus oocytes, only KZM3, but not KZM2, can mediate inward K+ currents. However, KZM2 can interact with KZM3 forming heteromeric Kin channel. In oocytes, KZM2 inhibited KZM3 channel conductance and negatively shifted the voltage dependence of KZM3. The activation of KZM2–KZM3 heteromeric channel became slower than the KZM3 channel. Patch‐clamping results showed that the inward K+ currents of maize guard cells were significantly increased in the KZM2 RNAi lines. In addition, the RNAi lines exhibited faster stomatal opening after light exposure. In conclusion, the presented results demonstrate that KZM2 functions as a negative regulator to modulate the Kin channels in maize guard cells. KZM2 and KZM3 may form heteromeric Kin channel and control stomatal opening in maize.
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