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J Biol Chem. 2010 Feb 26;285(9):6265-74. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.068445. Epub 2009 Dec 29.

Preferential KAT1-KAT2 heteromerization determines inward K+ current properties in Arabidopsis guard cells.

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Biochimie et Physiologie Moléculaire des Plantes, CNRS UMR 5004, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique U386, Montpellier SupAgro, Université Montpellier II, Place Viala, 34060 Montpellier Cedex, France.


Guard cells adjust their volume by changing their ion content due to intense fluxes that, for K(+), are believed to flow through inward or outward Shaker channels. Because Shaker channels can be homo- or heterotetramers and Arabidopsis guard cells express at least five genes encoding inward Shaker subunits, including the two major ones, KAT1 and KAT2, the molecular identity of inward Shaker channels operating therein is not yet completely elucidated. Here, we first addressed the properties of KAT1-KAT2 heteromers by expressing KAT1-KAT2 tandems in Xenopus oocytes. Then, computer analyses of the data suggested that coexpression of free KAT1 and KAT2 subunits resulted mainly in heteromeric channels made of two subunits of each type due to some preferential association of KAT1-KAT2 heterodimers at the first step of channel assembly. This was further supported by the analysis of KAT2 effect on KAT1 targeting in tobacco cells. Finally, patch-clamp recordings of native inward channels in wild-type and mutant genotypes strongly suggested that this preferential heteromerization occurs in planta and that Arabidopsis guard cell inward Shaker channels are mainly heteromers of KAT1 and KAT2 subunits.

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