C-Terminus-Mediated Voltage Gating of Arabidopsis Guard Cell Anion Channel QUAC1

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Anion transporters in plants play a fundamental role in volume regulation and signaling. Currently, two plasma membrane-located anion channel families—SLAC/SLAH and ALMT—are known. Among the ALMT family, the root-expressed ALuminium-activated Malate Transporter 1 was identified by comparison of aluminum-tolerant and Al3+-sensitive wheat cultivars and was subsequently shown to mediate voltage-independent malate currents. In contrast, ALMT12/QUAC1 (QUickly activating Anion Channel1) is expressed in guard cells transporting malate in an Al3+-insensitive and highly voltage-dependent manner. So far, no information is available about the structure and mechanism of voltage-dependent gating with the QUAC1 channel protein. Here, we analyzed gating of QUAC1-type currents in the plasma membrane of guard cells and QUAC1-expressing oocytes revealing similar voltage dependencies and activation–deactivation kinetics. In the heterologous expression system, QUAC1 was electrophysiologically characterized at increasing extra- and intracellular malate concentrations. Thereby, malate additively stimulated the voltage-dependent QUAC1 activity. In search of structural determinants of the gating process, we could not identify transmembrane domains common for voltage-sensitive channels. However, site-directed mutations and deletions at the C-terminus of QUAC1 resulted in altered voltage-dependent channel activity. Interestingly, the replacement of a single glutamate residue, which is conserved in ALMT channels from different clades, by an alanine disrupted QUAC1 activity. Together with C- and N-terminal tagging, these results indicate that the cytosolic C-terminus is involved in the voltage-dependent gating mechanism of QUAC1.

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