A novel potassium channel in photosynthetic cyanobacteria

Manuela Zanetti, Enrico Teardo, Nicoletta La Rocca, Lalu Zulkifli, Vanessa Checchetto, Toshiaki Shijuku, Yuki Sato, Giorgio Mario Giacometti, Noboyuki Uozumi, Elisabetta Bergantino, Ildiko Szabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Elucidation of the structure-function relationship of a small number of prokaryotic ion channels characterized so far greatly contributed to our knowledge on basic mechanisms of ion conduction. We identified a new potassium channel (SynK) in the genome of the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC6803, a photosynthetic model organism. SynK, when expressed in a K+-uptake-system deficient E.coli strain, was able to recover growth of these organisms. The protein functions as a potassium selective ion channel when expressed in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells. The location of SynK in cyanobacteria in both thylakoid and plasmamembranes was revealed by immunogold electron microscopy and Western blotting of isolated membrane fractions. SynK seems to be conserved during evolution, giving rise to a TPK (two-pore K+ channel) family member which is shown here to be located in the thylakoid membrane of Arabidopsis. Our work characterizes a novel cyanobacterial potassium channel and indicates the molecular nature of the first higher plant thylakoid cation channel, opening the way to functional studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10118
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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