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Plant Physiol. 2000 Nov;124(3):1349-62.

Permeability and channel-mediated transport of boric acid across membrane vesicles isolated from squash roots.

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Department of Pomology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Boron is an essential micronutrient for plant growth and the boron content of plants differs greatly, but the mechanism(s) of its uptake into cells is not known. Boron is present in the soil solution as boric acid and it is in this form that it enters the roots. We determined the boron permeability coefficient of purified plasma membrane vesicles obtained from squash (Cucurbita pepo) roots and found it to be 3 x 10(-7) +/-1.4 x 10(-8) cm s(-1), six times higher than the permeability of microsomal vesicles. Boric acid permeation of the plasma membrane vesicles was partially inhibited (30%-39%) by mercuric chloride and phloretin, a non-specific channel blocker. The inhibition by mercuric chloride was readily reversible by 2-mercaptoethanol. The energy of activation for boron transport into the plasma membrane vesicles was 10.2 kcal mol(-1). Together these data indicate that boron enters plant cells in part by passive diffusion through the lipid bilayer of the plasma membrane and in part through proteinaceous channels. Expression of the major intrinsic protein (MIP) PIP1 in Xenopus laevis oocytes resulted in a 30% increase in the boron permeability of the oocytes. Other MIPs tested (PIP3, MLM1, and GlpF) did not have this effect. We postulate that certain MIPs, like those that have recently been shown to transport small neutral solutes, may also be the channels through which boron enters plant cells.

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