The vacuo-lysosomes of Hevea brasiliensis (rubber tree) constitute a suitable model system for the study of active transport and energization at the level of the membrane of plant vacuoles. The pH gradient (delta pH) and the membrane potential (delta psi) of vacuo-lysosomes were determined by means of the weak base methylamine and the lipophilic cation tetraphenylphosphonium. The values obtained depended strongly on the experimental conditions such as medium pH or K+ concentration. Under experimental conditions, i.e., pH 7.5 outside and low K+, the delta pH amounts to about 0.9 unit, interior acid, and the delta psi to -120 mV, interior negative. The delta psi is presumably caused by the imposed K+ gradient, and the internal acidification might be a consequence of the passive proton inflow along the electric field. This explanation is sustained by the ineffectiveness of carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone in destroying the delta pH and delta psi, whereas higher K+ concentration decreased both. Under conditions existing in vivo, the membrane potential might be significantly lower. The presence of ATP increased the acidification of the intravesicular space by 0.5pH unit to a delta pH of up to 1.4 and shifts the membrane potential at least 60mV to a more positive value. The change of the protonmotive potential did not occur with ADP; the pH-dependence of the change was identical with the pH-dependence of a vacuo-lysosomal membrane-bound ATPase, and the effect of ATPase was prevented by the presence of the uncoupler carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone. The change of protonmotive potential difference, brought about by the ATPase, was at least 90 mV. This is evidence that a vacuo-lysosomal ATPase in plants can function as an electrogenic proton pump that transfers protons into the vacuo-lysosomal space.

This content is only available as a PDF.