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J Exp Bot. 2005 Jun;56(416):1469-79. Epub 2005 Apr 29.

Redox regulation of carbon storage and partitioning in response to light and sugars.

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Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Am M├╝hlenberg 1, D-14476 Golm, Germany.


Redox signals generated by the photosynthetic electron transport chain are known to be involved in regulating the Calvin cycle, ATP synthesis, and NADPH export from chloroplasts in response to light. The signal cascade involves transfer of electrons from photosystem I via the ferredoxin-thioredoxin system to target enzymes that are activated by reduction of regulatory disulphide bonds. The purpose of this review is to discuss recent findings showing that this concept can be extended to the regulation of carbon storage and partitioning in plants. Starch is the major carbon store in plants, and ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase) is the key regulatory enzyme of starch synthesis in the plastid. It has been shown that AGPase from potato tubers is subject to post-translational redox modification, and here experimental data will be provided showing that the isozyme from pea leaf chloroplasts is activated by reduced thioredoxin f or m in a similar way. Recent reports will be summarized providing in planta evidence that this mechanism regulates storage starch synthesis in response to light and sugars. Post-translational redox activation of AGPase in response to sugars is part of a signalling mechanism linking the rate of starch synthesis to the availability of carbon in diverse plant tissues. Some of the components of the signalling pathway reporting changes in the cytosolic sugar status to the plastid have been postulated, but detailed work is in progress to confirm the exact mode of action. Recent evidence will be discussed showing that key enzymes of de novo fatty acid synthesis (acetyl-CoA carboxylase) and ammonium assimilation (glutamine synthetase and glutamine:oxoglutarate amino transferase) are regulated by reversible disulphide-bond formation similar to AGPase. Redox regulation is proposed to be the preferred strategy of plastidial enzymes to regulate various metabolic processes such as carbon fixation, starch metabolism, lipid synthesis, and amino acid synthesis in response to physiological and environmental inputs.

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