Activation of the plant mitochondrial potassium channel by free fatty acids and acyl-CoA esters: a possible defence mechanism in the response to hyperosmotic stress.
A valuable method to isolate and purify mitochondria from embryonal masses of two coniferous species (Picea abies [L.] Karst. and Abies cephalonica Loud.) is described. Crude mitochondria from both species were shown to be intact, oxygen consuming (with malate plus glutammate, succinate and NADH as substrates) and well coupled (respiratory control ratio ca. 4). The oxidation of the substrates was only partially KCN-insensitive (alternative oxidase) in some cases. However, these fractions were contaminated by membranes (e.g. plasmalemma, tonoplast, Golgi and endoplasmic reticulum). After purification by a discontinuous Percoll gradient (18, 23, 40%, v/v), three mitochondrial populations were separated. The 0/18 interface fraction was composed mainly of broken and uncoupled mitochondria, while the other two (18/23 and 23/40 interface fractions) contained intact and coupled mitochondria, but only 23/40 interface fraction revealed to be better purified starting from both coniferous embryonal masses. In the latter purified fraction, the presence of a cyclosporin A-sensitive K ATP + channel was demonstrated. These findings were discussed in the light of the potential use of these mitochondrial fractions in bioenergetic studies, or in the involvement of these organelles to stress response in conifers.