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The organic anion malate is accumulated in the central vacuole of most plant cells. Malate has several important roles in plant vacuoles, such as the maintenance of charge balance and pH regulation, as an osmolyte involved in the generation of cell turgor, and as a storage form of CO2. Transport of malate across the vacuolar membrane is important for the regulation of cytoplasmic pH and the control of cellular metabolism, particularly in plants showing crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), in which large fluxes of malate occur during the day/night cycle. By applying the patch-clamp technique, in the whole-vacuole configuration, to isolated vacuoles from leaf mesophyll cells of the CAM plant Kalanchoë daigremontiana, we studied the regulation of the vacuolar malate channel by pH and Ca2+, as well as its sensitivity to anion-channel blockers. Malate currents were found to be insensitive to Ca2+ on the cytoplasmic side of the membrane over a range from approximately 10(-8) M to 10(-4) M. In contrast, decreasing cytoplasmic pH below 7.5 had a significant modulatory effect on channel activity, reducing malate currents by 40%, whereas increasing cytoplasmic pH above 7.5 resulted in no change in current. Several known Cl?-channel blockers inhibited the vacuolar malate currents: niflumic acid and indanoyloxyacetic acid (IAA-94) proved to be the most effective inhibitors, exerting half-maximal effects at concentrations of approximately 20 mM, suggesting that the plant vacuolar malate channel may share certain similarities with other classes of known anion channels.

Original publication




Journal article


J Membr Biol

Publication Date





31 - 42


Biological Transport, Calcium, Chloride Channels, Crassulaceae, Cytosol, Glycolates, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Ion Channels, Malates, Niflumic Acid, Plant Leaves, Vacuoles