Cell-specific vacuolar calcium storage mediated by CAX1 regulates apoplastic calcium concentration, gas exchange, and plant productivity in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell. 2011 Jan;23(1):240-57. doi: 10.1105/tpc.109.072769. Epub 2011 Jan 21.


The physiological role and mechanism of nutrient storage within vacuoles of specific cell types is poorly understood. Transcript profiles from Arabidopsis thaliana leaf cells differing in calcium concentration ([Ca], epidermis <10 mM versus mesophyll >60 mM) were compared using a microarray screen and single-cell quantitative PCR. Three tonoplast-localized Ca(2+) transporters, CAX1 (Ca(2+)/H(+)-antiporter), ACA4, and ACA11 (Ca(2+)-ATPases), were identified as preferentially expressed in Ca-rich mesophyll. Analysis of respective loss-of-function mutants demonstrated that only a mutant that lacked expression of both CAX1 and CAX3, a gene ectopically expressed in leaves upon knockout of CAX1, had reduced mesophyll [Ca]. Reduced capacity for mesophyll Ca accumulation resulted in reduced cell wall extensibility, stomatal aperture, transpiration, CO(2) assimilation, and leaf growth rate; increased transcript abundance of other Ca(2+) transporter genes; altered expression of cell wall-modifying proteins, including members of the pectinmethylesterase, expansin, cellulose synthase, and polygalacturonase families; and higher pectin concentrations and thicker cell walls. We demonstrate that these phenotypes result from altered apoplastic free [Ca(2+)], which is threefold greater in cax1/cax3 than in wild-type plants. We establish CAX1 as a key regulator of apoplastic [Ca(2+)] through compartmentation into mesophyll vacuoles, a mechanism essential for optimal plant function and productivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiporters / genetics
  • Antiporters / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Mutation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves / cytology
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Stomata / metabolism
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Vacuoles / metabolism*


  • Antiporters
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Plant
  • calcium-hydrogen antiporters
  • Calcium