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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Dec 9;94(25):14156-61.

Evidence for the existence of a sulfonylurea-receptor-like protein in plants: modulation of stomatal movements and guard cell potassium channels by sulfonylureas and potassium channel openers.

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Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique Cadarache, Direction des Sciences du Vivant, Departement d'Ecophysiologie Vegetale et Microbiologie, Laboratoire de Bioenergetique Cellulaire, BP1-F13108, St. Paul-lez-Durance, Cedex France.


Limitation of water loss and control of gas exchange is accomplished in plant leaves via stomatal guard cells. Stomata open in response to light when an increase in guard cell turgor is triggered by ions and water influx across the plasma membrane. Recent evidence demonstrating the existence of ATP-binding cassette proteins in plants led us to analyze the effect of compounds known for their ability to modulate ATP-sensitive potassium channels (K-ATP) in animal cells. By using epidermal strip bioassays and whole-cell patch-clamp experiments with Vicia faba guard cell protoplasts, we describe a pharmacological profile that is specific for the outward K+ channel and very similar to the one described for ATP-sensitive potassium channels in mammalian cells. Tolbutamide and glibenclamide induced stomatal opening in bioassays and in patch-clamp experiments, a specific inhibition of the outward K+ channel by these compounds was observed. Conversely, application of potassium channel openers such as cromakalim or RP49356 triggered stomatal closure. An apparent competition between sulfonylureas and potassium channel openers occurred in bioassays, and outward potassium currents, previously inhibited by glibenclamide, were partially recovered after application of cromakalim. By using an expressed sequence tag clone from an Arabidopsis thaliana homologue of the sulfonylurea receptor, a 7-kb transcript was detected by Northern blot analysis in guard cells and other tissues. Beside the molecular evidence recently obtained for the expression of ATP-binding cassette protein transcripts in plants, these results give pharmacological support to the presence of a sulfonylurea-receptor-like protein in the guard-cell plasma membrane tightly involved in the outward potassium channel regulation during stomatal movements.


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