The Role of Potassium Channels in Arabidopsis thaliana Long Distance Electrical Signalling: AKT2 Modulates Tissue Excitability While GORK Shapes Action Potentials
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Fast responses to an external threat depend on the rapid transmission of signals through a plant. Action potentials (APs) are proposed as such signals. Plant APs share similarities with their animal counterparts; they are proposed to depend on the activity of voltage-gated ion channels. Nonetheless, despite their demonstrated role in (a)biotic stress responses, the identities of the associated voltage-gated channels and transporters remain undefined in higher plants. By demonstrating the role of two potassium-selective channels in Arabidopsis thaliana in AP generation and shaping, we show that the plant AP does depend on similar Kv-like transport systems to those of the animal signal. We demonstrate that the outward-rectifying potassium-selective channel GORK limits the AP amplitude and duration, while the weakly-rectifying channel AKT2 affects membrane excitability. By computational modelling of plant APs, we reveal that the GORK activity not only determines the length of an AP but also the steepness of its rise and the maximal amplitude. Thus, outward-rectifying potassium channels contribute to both the repolarisation phase and the initial depolarisation phase of the signal. Additionally, from modelling considerations we provide indications that plant APs might be accompanied by potassium waves, which prime the excitability of the green cable.