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J Exp Bot. 2007;58(7):1559-69. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

Vacuolar calcium channels.

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  • 1Centro Universitario de Investigaciones Biomedicas, Universidad de Colima, 28047 Colima, Col., Mexico.


The central vacuole is the largest Ca2+ store in a mature plant cell. Ca2+ release from this store contributes to Ca2+-mediated intracellular signalling in a variety of physiological responses. However, the routes for vacuolar Ca2+ release are not well characterized. To date, at least two voltage-dependent and two ligand-gated Ca2+-permeable channels have been reported in plant vacuoles. However, the so-called VVCa (vacuolar voltage-gated Ca2+) channel most probably is not a separate channel but is identical to another voltage-dependent channel-the so-called SV (slow vacuolar) channel. Studies in the last few years have added a new dimension to our knowledge of SV channel-mediated ion transport and the mechanisms of its regulation by multiple natural factors. Recently, the SV channel was identified as the product of the TPC1 gene in Arabidopsis. In contrast, the TPC1 channel from other species was thought to be localized in the plasma membrane. A re-evaluation of this work under the assumption that the TPC1 channel is generally a vacuolar channel provides interesting insights into the physiological function of the TPC1/SV channel. Considerably less is known about vacuolar Ca2+ channels that are supposed to be activated by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate or cADP ribose. The major problems are controversial reports about functional characteristics, and a remarkable lack of homologues of animal ligand-gated Ca2+ channels in higher plants. To help understand Ca2+-mediated intracellular signalling in plant cells, a critical update of existing experimental evidence for vacuolar Ca2+ channels is presented.

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