Yeast Kch1 and Kch2 membrane proteins play a pleiotropic role in membrane potential establishment and monovalent cation homeostasis regulation

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The Kch1 and Kch2 plasma-membrane proteins were identified in Saccharomyces cerevisiae as being essential for the activation of a high-affinity Ca2+ influx system. We searched for Kch proteins roles in the maintenance of cation homeostasis and tested the effect of kch1 and/or kch2 deletions on various physiological parameters. Compared to wild-type, kch1 kch2 mutant cells were smaller, relatively hyperpolarised, grew better under limited K+ conditions and exhibited altered growth in the presence of monovalent cations. The absence of Kch1 and Kch2 did not change the intracellular pH in cells growing at low potassium or the tolerance of cells to divalent cations, high concentration of sorbitol or extreme external pH. The overexpression of KCH1 only increased the intracellular pH in the presence of elevated K+ in media. None of the phenotypes associated with the deletion of KCH1 and KCH2 in wild type were observed in a strain lacking KCH genes and main K+ uptake systems Trk1 and Trk2. The role of the Kch homologue in cation homeostasis was also tested in Candida albicans cells. Our data demonstrate that Kch proteins significantly contribute to the maintenance of optimal cation homeostasis and membrane potential in S. cerevisiae but not in C. albicans.

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