The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 2, pp 211-224

First online:

Lumenal calcium modulates unitary conductance and gating of a plant vacuolar calcium release channel

  • E. JohannesAffiliated withThe Plant Laboratory, Biology Department, University of York
  • , D. SandersAffiliated withThe Plant Laboratory, Biology Department, University of York

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The patch clamp technique has been used to investigate ion permeation and Ca2+-dependent gating of a voltage-sensitive Ca2+ release channel in the vacuolar membrane of sugar beet tap roots. Reversal potential measurements in bi-ionic conditions revealed a sequence for permeability ratios of Ca2+ ≈ Sr2+ ≈ Ba2+ > Mg2+ ≫ K+ which is inversely related to the size of the unitary conductances K+ ≫ Mg2+ ≈ Ba2+ > Sr2+ ≈ Ca2+, suggesting that ion movement is not independent. In the presence of Ca2+, the unitary K+ current is reduced in a concentration- and voltage-dependent manner by Ca2+ binding at a high affinity site (K 0.5 = 0.29 mm at 0 mV) which is located 9% along the electric field of the membrane from the vacuolar side. Comparison of reversal potentials obtained under strictly bi-ionic conditions with those obtained in the presence of mixtures of the two ions indicates that the channel forms a multi-ion pore. Lumenal Ca2+ also has an effect on voltage-dependent channel gating. Stepwise increases of vacuolar Ca2+ from micromolar to millimolar concentrations resulted in a dramatic increase in channel openings over the physiological voltage range via a shift in threshold for channel activation to less negative membrane potentials. The steepness of the concentration dependence of channel activation by Ca2+ at −41 mV predicts that two Ca2+ ions need to bind to open the gate. The implications of the results for ion permeation and channel gating are discussed.

Key words

Calcium-permeable channel Permeation Selectivity Gating Calcium modulation Beta vulgaris