Whole-cell K+ current across the plasma membrane of guard cells from a grass: Zea mays

K. A. Fairley-Grenot, Sarah Mary Assmann

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76 Scopus citations


Knowledge of ion fluxes in the dumbell-shaped guard cells of grass species has been limited by the difficulty of obtaining isolated epidermes or guard-cell protoplasts for use in radioactive-tracer or electrophysiological studies. We describe here a method for isolating guard-cell protoplasts from Zea mays L. Whole-cell patch clamp has been used to measure K+-channel current across the plasma membrane surrounding these protoplasts. Two populations of K+-permeable channels have been identified. Hyperpolarization of the membrane to potentials (Vm) more negative than -100 mV results in inward K+ current through one population of channels. Inward current activation is faster than in the dicotyledon, Vicia faba L. (mean activation half-time 26 ms (Z. mays) versus 123 ms (V. faba) at Vm=-180 mV). Steady-state current density is less than in V. faba (-22 μA · cm-2 (Z. mays) versus -40 μA · cm-2 (V. faba) at Vm=- 180 mV in 12 mM external K+). Depolarization of the membrane to potentials more positive than -20 mV results in outward K+ current through a second population of channels; these channels activate and (upon repolarization of the membrane) deactivate more slowly than in V. faba (mean activation half-time 375 ms (Z. mays) versus 187 ms (V. faba) at Vm=+ 80 mV) but result in a similar steady-state current density (23.8 μA · cm-2 (Z. mays) versus 28.7 μA · cm-2 (V. faba) at Vm= + 80 mV with 105 mM internal K+). Omission of K+ eliminates the current. The K+ current is sensitive to both internal and external Ca2+ concentration: increasing internal Ca2+ from 2 nM to 0.2 μM or increasing external Ca2+ from 1 mM to 8.5 mM reduces the magnitude of both inward and outward current.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-293
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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