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Photosynth Res. 2005 Dec;86(3):309-23. Epub 2005 Nov 15.

The role of 5'-adenylylsulfate reductase in controlling sulfate reduction in plants.

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Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520, USA.


Cysteine is the first organic product of sulfate assimilation and as such is the precursor of all molecules containing reduced sulfur including methionine, glutathione, and their many metabolites. In plants, 5'-adenylylsulfate (APS) reductase is hypothesized to be a key regulatory point in sulfate assimilation and reduction. APS reductase catalyzes the two-electron reduction of APS to sulfite using glutathione as an electron donor. This paper reviews the experimental basis for this hypothesis. In addition, the results of an experiment designed to test the hypothesis by bypassing the endogenous APS reductase and its regulatory mechanisms are described. Two different bacterial assimilatory reductases were expressed in transgenic Zea mays, the thioredoxin-dependent APS reductase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the thioredoxin-dependent 3'-phosphoadenylylsulfate reductase from Escherichia coli. Each of them was placed under transcriptional control of the ubiquitin promoter and the protein products were targeted to chloroplasts. The leaves of transgenic Z. mays lines showed significant accumulation of reduced organic thiol compounds including cysteine, gamma-glutamylcysteine, and glutathione; and reduced inorganic forms of sulfur including sulfite and thiosulfate. Both bacterial enzymes appeared to be equally capable of deregulating the assimilative sulfate reduction pathway. The reduced sulfur compounds accumulated to such high levels that the transgenic plants showed evidence of toxicity. The results provide additional evidence that APS reductase is a major control point for sulfate reduction in Z. mays.

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