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Acta Biochim Pol. 2003;50(4):1257-71.

Alternative oxidase in higher plants.

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  • 1Department of Plant Bioenergetics, Institute of Experimental Plant Biology, Warsaw University, Miecznikowa 1, 02-096 Warszawa, Poland.


Plant respiratory chain branches at the level of ubiquinone from where the electrons flow through the cytochrome pathway or to alternative oxidase. Transfer of electrons from ubiquinone to oxygen by alternative oxidase has a non-protonmotive character and, by bypassing two sites of H+ pumping in complexes III and IV, lowers the energy efficiency of respiration. In this paper we review theoretical and experimental studies about the structure and possible function of alternative oxidase. The evidence for specific gene expression dependent on the physiological, developmental and environmental conditions is also described. We underline the physiological role of alternative oxidase as a "survival" protein that allows plants to cope with the stressful environment.

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