Identification of hyperpolarization-activated calcium channels in apical pollen tubes of Pyrus pyrifolia


Author for correspondence: Shao-ling Zhang Tel: +86 025 84396580 Fax: +86 025 84395262 Email:


  • • The pollen tube has been widely used to study the mechanisms underlying polarized tip growth in plants. A steep tip-to-base gradient of free cytosolic calcium ([Ca2+]cyt) is essential for pollen-tube growth. Local Ca2+ influx mediated by Ca2+-permeable channels plays a key role in maintaining this [Ca2+]cyt gradient.
  • • Here, we developed a protocol for successful isolation of spheroplasts from pollen tubes of Pyrus pyrifolia and identified a hyperpolarization-activated cation channel using the patch-clamp technique.
  • • We showed that the cation channel conductance displayed a strong selectivity for divalent cations, with a relative permeability sequence of barium (Ba2+) ≈ Ca2+ > magnesium (Mg2+) > strontium (Sr2+) > manganese (Mn2+). This channel conductance was selective for Ca2+ over chlorine (Cl) (relative permeability PCa/PCl = 14 in 10 mm extracellular Ca2+). We also showed that the channel was inhibited by the Ca2+ channel blockers lanthanum (La3+) and gadolinium (Gd3+). Furthermore, channel activity depended on extracellular pH and pollen viability.
  • • We propose that the Ca2+-permeable channel is likely to play a role in mediating Ca2+ influx into the growing pollen tubes to maintain the [Ca2+]cyt gradient.