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Plant Physiol. 2002 Nov;130(3):1386-95.

The voltage-independent cation channel in the plasma membrane of wheat roots is permeable to divalent cations and may be involved in cytosolic Ca2+ homeostasis.

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Department of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology, Horticulture Research International, Wellesbourne, Warwick, United Kingdom.


A voltage-independent cation (VIC) channel has been identified in the plasma membrane of wheat (Triticum aestivum) root cells (P.J. White [1999] Trends Plant Sci 4: 245-246). Several physiological functions have been proposed for this channel, including roles in cation nutrition, osmotic adjustment, and charge compensation. Here, we observe that Ca(2+) permeates this VIC channel when assayed in artificial, planar lipid bilayers, and, using an energy barrier model to describe cation fluxes, predict that it catalyzes Ca(2+) influx under physiological ionic conditions. Thus, this channel could participate in Ca(2+) signaling or cytosolic Ca(2+) homeostasis. The pharmacology of (45)Ca(2+) influx to excised wheat roots and inward cation currents through the VIC channel are similar: Both are insensitive to 20 microM verapamil or 1 mM tetraethylammonium, but inhibited by 0.5 mM Ba(2+) or 0.5 mM Gd(3+). The weak voltage dependency of the VIC channel (and its lack of modulation by physiological effectors) suggest that it will provide perpetual Ca(2+) influx to root cells. Thus, it may effect cytosolic Ca(2+) homeostasis by contributing to the basal Ca(2+) influx required to balance Ca(2+) efflux from the cytoplasm through ATP- and proton-coupled Ca(2+) transporters under steady-state conditions.

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