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Plant Physiol. 1991 Nov;97(3):1234-40.

Polyphosphate Hydrolysis within Acidic Vacuoles in Response to Amine-Induced Alkaline Stress in the Halotolerant Alga Dunaliella salina.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


The location and mobilization of polyphosphates in response to an amine-induced alkaline stress were studied in the halotolerant alga Dunaliella salina. The following observations suggest that polyphosphates accumulate in acidic vacuoles: (a) Accumulation of large amounts of polyphosphates is manifested as intravacuolar dense osmiophilic bodies in electron micrographs. (b) Uptake of amines into the vacuoles induces massive hydrolysis of polyphosphates, demonstrated by in vivo(31)P-nuclear magnetic resonance, and by analysis of hydrolytic products on thin layer chromatograms. The analysis indicates that: (a) Polyphosphate hydrolysis is kinetically correlated with amine accumulation and with the recovery of cytoplasmic pH. (b) The major hydrolytic product is tripolyphosphate. (c) The peak position of the tripolyphosphate terminal phosphate in nuclear magnetic resonance spectra is progressively shifted as the cells recover, indicating that the pH inside the vacuoles increases while the pH in the cytoplasm decreases. (d) In lysed cell preparations, in which vacuoles become exposed to the external pH, mild alkalinization in the absence of amines induces polyphosphate hydrolysis to tripolyphosphates. It is suggested that amine accumulation within vacuoles activates a specific phosphatase, which hydrolyzes long-chain polyphosphates to tripolyphosphates. The hydrolysis increases the capacity of the vacuoles to sequester amines from the cytoplasm probably by releasing protons required to buffer the amine, and leads to recovery of cytoplasmic pH. Thus, polyphosphate hydrolysis provides a high-capacity buffering system that sustains amine compartmentation into vacuoles and protects cytoplasmic pH.

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