Developmental and light-dependent regulation of a phloem-localised K+ channel of Arabidopsis thaliana


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K+ channels in plants can currently be classified into six families with individual members being involved in nutrient uptake, loading of the xylem and the physiology of stomatal movement. In this study we have focused on akt2/3. This K+ channel, as shown by GUS-expression analysis, is expressed in the phloem and xylem of the aerial parts of Arabidopsis thaliana. Northern blot analyses revealed the highest akt2/3-concentrations in the flower stalk, followed by the leaf, flower and stem. During the light period (8 am to 4 pm), transcripts reached a peak around noon (11 am), decayed to almost 50% in the afternoon and reached a low background level in the following dark period. In continuous darkness, however, the K+ channel mRNA content had already decreased beyond the background level by noon. In leaves and flower stalk, the light-induced transcription of akt2/3 was suppressed by CO2-free air, indicating that gene activity is under the control of photosynthates. Additionally, when rosette leaves were illuminated and flower stalks shaded, akt2/3-mRNA transcription was still inhibited in the shaded region. This indicates that channel gene activation is sensitive to photosynthesis-derived factors from neighboring cells rather than factors mobile in the phloem. We propose that the coupling between sugar production and allocation involves the photosynthate- and light-dependent phloem K+ channel AKT2/3.