Differential expression of K+ channels between guard cells and subsidiary cells within the maize stomatal complex

Planta. 2005 Dec;222(6):968-76. doi: 10.1007/s00425-005-0038-6. Epub 2005 Jul 15.


Grass stomata are characterized by dumbbell-shaped guard cells forming a complex with a pair of specialized epidermal cells, the subsidiary cells. Stomatal movement is accomplished by a reversible exchange of potassium and chloride between these two cell types. To gain insight into the molecular machinery involved in K+ transport within the stomatal complex of Zea mays, we determined the spatial and temporal expression pattern of potassium channels in the maize leaf. KZM2 and ZORK were isolated and identified as new members of the plant Shaker K+ channel family. Northern blot analysis identified fully developed leaves as the predominant site of KZM2 expression. Following enzymatic digestion and separation of leaf tissue into epidermal, mesophyll, and vascular fractions, KZM2 and ZORK transcripts were localized in the epidermis. Using a collection of individually isolated guard cell or subsidiary cell protoplasts, ZORK transcripts were found in both cell types while KZM2 was exclusively expressed in the guard cell population. The previously identified K+ channel genes ZMK1 and KZM1 were expressed in subsidiary cells and guard cells, respectively, whereas ZMK2 transcripts were not detected. These data indicate that the interaction between subsidiary cells and guard cells is based on overlapping as well as differential expression of K+ channels in the two cell types of the maize stomatal complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Gene Expression*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Shaker Superfamily of Potassium Channels / genetics*
  • Zea mays / cytology
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Plant Proteins
  • Shaker Superfamily of Potassium Channels