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Laboratoire de Biochimie Vegetale, Universite de Neuchatel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2007 Neuchatel, Switzerland; e-mail:, Laboratoire de Biologie Forestiere, Associe INRA, Biochimie et Biologie Moleculaire Vegetale, Universite de Nancy 1, F-54506 Vandoeuvre Cedex, France; e-mail:


Thioredoxins, the ubiquitous small proteins with a redox active disulfide bridge, are important regulatory elements in plant metabolism. Initially recognized as regulatory proteins in the reversible light activation of key photosynthetic enzymes, they have subsequently been found in the cytoplasm and in mitochondria. The various plant thioredoxins are different in structure and function. Depending on their intracellular location they are reduced enzymatically by an NADP-dependent or by a ferredoxin (light)-dependent reductase and transmit the regulatory signal to selected target enzymes through disulfide/dithiol interchange reactions. In this review we summarize recent developments that have provided new insights into the structures of several components and into the mechanism of action of the thioredoxin systems in plants.

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