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Journal Article

Channelrhodopsin-mediated optogenetics highlights a central role of depolarization-dependent plant proton pumps


Bamberg,  Ernst
Emeritusgroup Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Reyer, A., Häßler, M., Scherzer, S., Huang, S., Pedersen, J. T., Al-Rascheid, K. A. S., et al. (2020). Channelrhodopsin-mediated optogenetics highlights a central role of depolarization-dependent plant proton pumps. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(34), 20920-20925. doi:10.1073/pnas.2005626117.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-D983-1
In plants, environmental stressors trigger plasma membrane depolarizations. Being electrically interconnected via plasmodesmata, proper functional dissection of electrical signaling by electrophysiology is basically impossible. The green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii evolved blue light-excited channelrhodopsins (ChR1, 2) to navigate. When expressed in excitable nerve and muscle cells, ChRs can be used to control the membrane potential via illumination. In Arabidopsis plants, we used the algal ChR2-light switches as tools to stimulate plasmodesmata-interconnected photosynthetic cell networks by blue light and monitor the subsequent plasma membrane electrical responses. Blue-dependent stimulations of ChR2 expressing mesophyll cells, resting around -160 to -180 mV, reproducibly depolarized the membrane potential by 95 mV on average. Following excitation, mesophyll cells recovered their prestimulus potential not without transiently passing a hyperpolarization state. By combining optogenetics with voltage-sensing microelectrodes, we demonstrate that plant plasma membrane AHA-type H+-ATPase governs the gross repolarization process. AHA2 protein biochemistry and functional expression analysis in Xenopus oocytes indicates that the capacity of this H+ pump to recharge the membrane potential is rooted in its voltage- and pH-dependent functional anatomy. Thus, ChR2 optogenetics appears well suited to noninvasively expose plant cells to signal specific depolarization signatures. From the responses we learn about the molecular processes, plants employ to channel stress-associated membrane excitations into physiological responses.