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Plant Cell Physiol. 2000 Nov;41(11):1175-86.

Transport processes of solutes across the vacuolar membrane of higher plants.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physiologie Végétale, Institut de Botanique, Université de Neuchâtel, Rue Emile Argand 13, CH-2007 Neuchâtel, Switzerland.


The central vacuole is the largest compartment of a mature plant cell and may occupy more than 80% of the total cell volume. However, recent results indicate that beside the large central vacuole, several small vacuoles may exist in a plant cell. These vacuoles often belong to different classes and can be distinguished either by their contents in soluble proteins or by different types of a major vacuolar membrane protein, the aquaporins. Two vacuolar proton pumps, an ATPase and a PPase energize vacuolar uptake of most solutes. The electrochemical gradient generated by these pumps can be utilized to accumulate cations by a proton antiport mechanism or anions due to the membrane potential difference. Uptake can be catalyzed by channels or by transporters. Growing evidence shows that for most ions more than one transporter/channel exist at the vacuolar membrane. Furthermore, plant secondary products may be accumulated by proton antiport mechanisms. The transport of some solutes such as sucrose is energized in some plants but occurs by facilitated diffusion in others. A new class of transporters has been discovered recently: the ABC type transporters are directly energized by MgATP and do not depend on the electrochemical force. Their substrates are organic anions formed by conjugation, e.g. to glutathione. In this review we discuss the different transport processes occurring at the vacuolar membrane and focus on some new results obtained in this field.

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