Interaction of VK and SV channel activities is crucial in regulating vacuolar K+ and Ca2+ release during stomatal closure



Calcium-activated K+ channels and calcium-induced calcium release by slow vacuolar ion channels in guard cell vacuoles implicated in the control of stomatal closure

by Ward J. M., Schroeder J. I. (1994)


in  Plant Cell 6, 669–683. – doi: 10.1105/tpc.6.5.669 –


Stomatal closing requires the efflux of K+ from the large vacuolar organelle into the cytosol and across the plasma membrane of guard cells.

More than 90% of the K+ released from guard cells during stomatal closure originates from the guard cell vacuole. However, the corresponding molecular mechanisms for the release of K+ from guard cell vacuoles have remained unknown. Rises in the cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration have been shown to trigger ion efflux from guard cells, resulting in stomatal closure.

Here, we report a novel type of largely voltage-independent K+-selective ion channel in the vacuolar membrane of guard cells that is activated by physiological increases in the cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration. These vacuolar K+ (VK) channels had a single channel conductance of 70 pS with 100 mM KCI on both sides of the membrane and were highly selective for K+ over NH4+ and Rb+. Na+, Li+, and Cs+ were not measurably permeant.

The Ca2+, voltage, and pH dependences, high selectivity for K+, and high density of VK channels in the vacuolar membrane of guard cells suggest a central role for these K+ channels in the initiation and control of K+ release from the vacuole to the cytoplasm required for stomatal closure.

The activation of K+-selective VK channels can shift the vacuolar membrane to more positive potentials on the cytoplasmic side, sufficient to activate previously described slow vacuolar cation channels (SV-type).

Analysis of the ionic selectivity of SV channels demonstrated a Ca2+ over K+ selectivity (permeability ratio for Ca2+ to K+ of ~3:1) of these channels in broad bean guard cells and red beet vacuoles, suggesting that SV channels play an important role in Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release from the vacuole during stomatal closure.

A model is presented suggesting that the interaction of VK and SV channel activities is crucial in regulating vacuolar K+ and Ca2+ release during stomatal closure. Furthermore, the possibility that the ubiquitous SV channels may represent a general mechanism for Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release from higher plant vacuoles is discussed.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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