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    We combined the patch-clamp technique with ratiometric fluorescence imaging using the proton-responsive dye BCECF as a luminal probe. Upon application of a steep cytosol-directed potassium ion (K+ ) gradient in Arabidopsis mesophyll vacuoles, a strong and reversible acidification of the vacuolar lumen was detected, whereas no associated electrical currents were observed, in agreement with electroneutral cation/H+ exchange. Our data show that this acidification was generated by NHX antiport activity, because: it did not distinguish between K+ and sodium (Na+ ) ions; it was sensitive to the NHX inhibitor benzamil; and it was completely absent in vacuoles from nhx1 nhx2 double knockout plants. Our data further show that NHX activity could be reversed, was voltage-independent and specifically impaired by the low-abundance signaling lipid PI(3,5)P2 , which may regulate salt accumulation in plants by acting as a common messenger to coordinately shut down secondary active carriers responsible for cation and anion uptake inside the vacuole. Finally, we developed a theory based on thermodynamics, which supports the data obtained by our novel experimental approach. This work, therefore, represents a proof-of-principle that can be applied to the study of proton-dependent exchangers from plants and animals, which are barely detectable using conventional techniques. © 2020 The Authors New Phytologist © 2020 New Phytologist Foundation.


    Antonella Gradogna, Joachim Scholz-Starke, José M Pardo, Armando Carpaneto. Beyond the patch-clamp resolution: functional activity of nonelectrogenic vacuolar NHX proton/potassium antiporters and inhibition by phosphoinositides. The New phytologist. 2021 Mar;229(5):3026-3036

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    PMID: 33098586

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