The plant vacuole: emitter and receiver of calcium signals

Cell Calcium. 2011 Aug;50(2):120-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2011.02.002. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


This review portrays the plant vacuole as both a source and a target of Ca(2+) signals. In plants, the vacuole represents a Ca(2+) store of enormous size and capacity. Total and free Ca(2+) concentrations in the vacuole vary with plant species, cell type, and environment, which is likely to have an impact on vacuolar function and the release of vacuolar Ca(2+). It is known that cytosolic Ca(2+) signals are often generated by release of the ion from internal stores, but in very few cases has a role of the vacuole been directly demonstrated. Biochemical and electrophysical studies have provided evidence for the operation of ligand- and voltage-gated Ca(2+)-permeable channels in the vacuolar membrane. The underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown with one exception: the slow vacuolar channel, encoded by TPC1, is the only vacuolar Ca(2+)-permeable channel cloned to date. However, due to its complex regulation and its low selectivity amongst cations, the role of this channel in Ca(2+) signalling is still debated. Many transport proteins at the vacuolar membrane are also targets of Ca(2+) signals, both by direct binding of Ca(2+) and by Ca(2+)-dependent phosphorylation. This enables the operation of feedback mechanisms and integrates vacuolar transport systems in the wider signalling network of the plant cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / genetics
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling*
  • Calmodulin / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Inositol Phosphates / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • NADP / analogs & derivatives
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plant Cells / metabolism*
  • Plant Stomata / metabolism
  • Plant Stomata / physiology
  • Vacuoles / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Calcium Channels
  • Calmodulin
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Inositol Phosphates
  • TPC1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • NADP