PM28A is a major intrinsic protein of the spinach leaf plasma membrane and the major phosphoprotein. Phosphorylation of PM28A is dependent in vivo on the apoplastic water potential and in vitro on submicromolar concentrations of Ca 2+ . Here, we demonstrate that PM28A is an aquaporin and that its water channel activity is regulated by phosphorylation. Wild-type and mutant forms of PM28A, in which putative phosphorylation sites had been knocked out, were expressed in Xenopus oocytes, and the resulting increase in osmotic water permeability was measured in the presence or absence of an inhibitor of protein kinases (K252a) or of an inhibitor of protein phosphatases (okadaic acid). The results indicate that the water channel activity of PM28A is regulated by phosphorylation of two serine residues, Ser-115 in the first cytoplasmic loop and Ser-274 in the C-terminal region. Labeling of spinach leaves with 32 P-orthophosphate and subsequent sequencing of PM28A-derived peptides demonstrated that Ser-274 is phosphorylated in vivo, whereas phosphorylation of Ser-115, a residue conserved among all plant plasma membrane aquaporins, could not be demonstrated. This identifies Ser-274 of PM28A as the amino acid residue being phosphorylated in vivo in response to increasing apoplastic water potential and dephosphorylated in response to decreasing water potential. Taken together, our results suggest an active role for PM28A in maintaining cellular water balance.
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