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Plant Cell. 2003 Oct;15(10):2320-32. Epub 2003 Sep 24.

Rapid induction of distinct stress responses after the release of singlet oxygen in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Institute of Plant Sciences, Plant Genetics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, CH 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.


The conditional fluorescent (flu) mutant of Arabidopsis accumulates the photosensitizer protochlorophyllide in the dark. After a dark-to-light shift, the generation of singlet oxygen, a nonradical reactive oxygen species, starts within the first minute of illumination and was shown to be confined to plastids. Immediately after the shift, plants stopped growing and developed necrotic lesions. These early stress responses of the flu mutant do not seem to result merely from physicochemical damage. Peroxidation of chloroplast membrane lipids in these plants started rapidly and led to the transient and selective accumulation of a stereospecific and regiospecific isomer of hydroxyoctadecatrieonic acid, free (13S)-HOTE, that could be attributed almost exclusively to the enzymatic oxidation of linolenic acid. Within the first 15 min of reillumination, distinct sets of genes were activated that were different from those induced by superoxide/hydrogen peroxide. Collectively, these results demonstrate that singlet oxygen does not act primarily as a toxin but rather as a signal that activates several stress-response pathways. Its biological activity in Arabidopsis exhibits a high degree of specificity that seems to be derived from the chemical identity of this reactive oxygen species and/or the intracellular location at which it is generated.

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