A rice high-affinity potassium transporter (HKT) conceals a calcium-permeable cation channel.
Plant high-affinity K(+) transport (HKT) proteins are so named because of their relation to bacterial and fungal transporters that mediate high-affinity K(+) uptake. The view that HKT family members are sodium-selective uniporters or sodium-potassium symporters is widely held. We have found that one of the rice HKT proteins also functions as a Ca(2+)-permeable cation channel that conducts current carried by a wide range of monovalent and divalent cations. The HKT rice gene, named OsHKT2;4, is expressed in several cell types, including root hairs and vascular parenchyma cells. The protein is localized to the plasma membrane, thereby providing a mechanism for cation uptake and extrusion. This finding goes against firmly entrenched dogma in showing that HKT proteins can function as both ion carriers and channels. The study further extends the function of HKT proteins to Ca(2+)-linked processes and, in so doing, defines a previously undescribed type of Ca(2+)-permeable cation channels in plants. The work also raises questions about the evolutionary changes in this protein family following the divergence of monocots and dicots.
PubMed ID: 20351263
PMC ID: PMC2872450
Article link: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.