Potassium (K+), the most abundant cation in biological organisms, plays a crucial role in the survival and development of plant cells, modulation of basic mechanisms such as enzyme activity, electrical membrane potentials, plant turgor and cellular homeostasis. Due to the absence of a Na+/K+ exchanger, which widely exists in animal cells, K+ channels and some type of K+ transporters function as K+ uptake systems in plants. Plant voltage-dependent K+ channels, which display striking topological and functional similarities with the voltage-dependent six-transmembrane segment animal Shaker-type K+ channels, have been found to play an important role in the plasma membrane of a variety of tissues and organs in higher plants. Outward-rectifying, inward-rectifying and weakly-rectifying K+ channels have been identified and play a crucial role in K+ homeostasis in plant cells. To adapt to the environmental conditions, plants must take advantage of the large variety of Shaker-type K+ channels naturally present in the plant kingdom. This review summarizes the extensive data on the structure, function, membrane topogenesis, heteromerization, expression, localization, physiological roles and modulation of Shaker-type K+ channels from various plant species. The accumulated results also help in understanding the similarities and differences in the properties of Shaker-type K+ channels in plants in comparison to those of Shaker channels in animals and bacteria.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology