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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 24;103(4):1135-40. Epub 2006 Jan 17.

Osmotic effects on vacuolar ion release in guard cells.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EA, UK.


Tracer flux experiments in isolated guard cells of Commelina communis L. suggest that the vacuolar ion content is regulated and is reset to a reduced fixed point by abscisic acid (ABA) with no significant change in cytoplasmic content. The effects of changes in external osmotic pressure were investigated by adding and removing mannitol from the bathing solution. Two effects were distinguished. In the new steady state of volume and turgor, the vacuolar ion efflux was sensitive to turgor: efflux increased at high turgor and reduced at lower turgor after the addition of mannitol. These changes were inhibited by phenylarsine oxide and are likely to involve the same channel that is involved in the response to ABA. After a hypoosmotic transfer, there was an additional effect: a fast transient stimulation of vacuolar efflux during the period of water flow into the cell; the size of this hypopeak increased with the size of the hypoosmotic shock, with increased water flow. No corresponding transient in reduced vacuolar efflux was observed upon hyperosmotic transfer. The fast hypopeak was not inhibited by phenylarsine oxide and appears to involve a different ion channel from that involved in the resting efflux, the response to ABA, or the turgor sensitivity. Thus, the tonoplast can sense an osmotic gradient and respond to water flow into the vacuole by increased vacuolar ion efflux, thereby minimizing cytoplasmic dilution. An aquaporin is the most likely sensor and may also be involved in the signal transduction chain.

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