Regulated expression of Arabidopsis shaker K+ channel genes involved in K+ uptake and distribution in the plant.
Potassium is the most abundant cation in the cytosol, where it plays a role in basal functions. Rapid uptake and distribution of K+ is therefore required for plant growth. Three members of the so-called Shaker K+ channel gene family (nine genes identified in Arabidopsis) play a role in these transports: AKT1, SKOR and AKT2. The encoded proteins are involved in K+ uptake by the root, K+ secretion into the xylem sap and K+ transport in the phloem tissues, respectively. Using the GUS reporter strategy, we have found that another Shaker channel gene, AtKC1, is expressed in epidermal and cortical cells in roots (supporting the hypothesis of a role in K+ uptake from the soil, together with AKT1), and in trichomes and hydathodes in leaves. These four genes were selected for expression studies, and two-hybrid experiments were performed for channels displaying overlapping expression patterns. The data support the hypothesis that physical interactions could occur in planta between AtKC1 and AKT1, and between AKT1 and AKT2. Potassium deficiency, salt stress and hormonal treatments (ABA, BA, 2,4-D) were found to differentially affect channel mRNA levels, each channel displaying its own regulation pattern. The most prominent effects were (1) a strong induction of AtKC1 transcript accumulation in leaves (hydathodes, trichomes and leaf epidermis) in response to NaCl treatment, suggesting a key role of the protein in adaptation to saline conditions, and (2) a strong decrease in SKOR transcript levels by hormones, supporting the hypothesis that K+ secretion into the xylem sap is under tight hormonal control.
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