, Volume 199, Issue 3, pp 416–424

Cytoplasmic acidification as an early phosphorylation-dependent response of tobacco cells to elicitors

  • Yves Mathieu
  • Danielle Lapous
  • Sébastien Thomine
  • Christiane Laurière
  • Jean Guern


Elicitor-induced cytoplasmic pH changes of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L. cv. Xanthi) cells grown in suspension cultures were explored under a variety of conditions by using a flexible technique based on the distribution of [14C] benzoic acid between the intracellular and extracellular compartments. Comparison of data obtained by this technique and by 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry qualifies the benzoic acid distribution method as a convenient and reliable way to probe cytoplasmic pH variations. Various elicitors shown to induce several defense-related responses in tobacco cells, namely oligogalacturonides of degree of polymerization 7–20, pectolyase from Aspergillus japonicus, Phytophthora megasperma crude elicitors and purified cryptogein, triggered cytoplasmic acidifications differing in intensity and kinetics according to the signal molecule. In contrast, no changes in cytoplasmic protons and external pH were observed in cells treated with short galacturonide oligomers, or with soybean-specific hepta β-glucoside from P. megasperma, which are devoid of elicitor activity in tobacco cells. The oligogalacturonide-induced cytoplasmic acidification was inhibited by two structurally unrelated protein kinase inhibitors, staurosporine and 6-dimethylaminopurine, which both reduced the external alkalinization response to the elicitor. The protein phosphatase inhibitor calyculin A alone behaved as an elicitormimicking molecule in triggering cytoplasmic acidification, again associated with extracellular alkalinization. These results indicate that the increase in the cytoplasmic concentration of protons may be considered as a common early intracellular response of tobacco cells to elicitors, associated with the extracellular alkalinization response and controlled by protein phosphorylation.

Key words

Cytosolic pH Elicitor Nicotiana Protein phosphorylation 



benzoic acid (protonated form)




degree of polymerization


2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid




cytoplasmic pH


nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of 31P atoms


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yves Mathieu
    • 1
  • Danielle Lapous
    • 1
  • Sébastien Thomine
    • 1
  • Christiane Laurière
    • 1
  • Jean Guern
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut des Sciences VégétalesCNRSGif-sur-Yvette CedexFrance

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