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J Exp Bot. 2001 Aug;52(361):1721-30.

Hydrogen peroxide induces programmed cell death features in cultured tobacco BY-2 cells, in a dose-dependent manner.

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UMR INRA-Université de Bourgogne, Phytopharmacie et Biochimie des Interactions Cellulaires, INRA BP 86510, 21065 Dijon cedex, France.


Active oxygen species (AOS), especially hydrogen peroxide, play a critical role in the defence of plants against invading pathogens and in the hypersensitive response (HR). This is characterized by the induction of a massive production of AOS and the rapid appearance of necrotic lesions is considered as a programmed cell death (PCD) process during which a limited number of cells die at the site of infection. This work was aimed at investigating the mode of cell death observed in cultures of BY-2 tobacco cells exposed to H(2)O(2). It was shown that H(2)O(2) is able to induce various morphological cell death features in cultured tobacco BY-2 cells. The hallmarks of cell death observed with fluorescent and electron microscopy differed greatly with the amount of H(2)O(2) added to the cell culture. The appearance of nuclear fragmentation similar to 'apoptotic bodies' associated with a fragmentation of the nuclear DNA into small fragments appear for almost 18% of the cells treated with 12.5 mM H(2)O(2). The early stages of the induction of this PCD process consisted in cell shrinkage and chromatin condensation at the periphery of the nucleus. Above 50 mM, H(2)O(2) induces high necrotic cell death. These data suggest that H(2)O(2)-induced cell damage is associated with the induction of various cell death processes that could be involved differently in plant defence reactions.

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