Potassium translocation in plants is accomplished by a large variety of transport systems. Most of the available molecular information on these proteins concerns voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv channels). The Arabidopsis genome comprises nine genes encoding α-subunits of Kv channels. Based on knowledge of their animal homologues, and on biochemical investigations, it is broadly admitted that four such polypeptides must assemble to yield a functional Kv channel. The intrinsic functional properties of Kv channel α-subunits have been described by expressing them in suitable heterologous contexts where homo-tetrameric channels could be characterized. However, due to the high similarity of both the polypeptidic sequence and the structural scheme of Kv channel α-subunits, formation of heteromeric Kv channels by at least two types of α-subunits is conceivable. Several examples of such heteromeric plant Kv channels have been studied in heterologous expression systems and evidence that heteromerization actually occurs in plata has now been published. It is therefore challenging to uncover the physiological role of this heteromerization. Fine tuning of Kv channels by heteromerisation could be relevant not only to potassium transport but also to electrical signaling within the plant.
- Membrane potential
- Voltage-gated channels