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Plant Physiol. 2008 Jul;147(3):1251-63. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.122465. Epub 2008 May 23.

Galactinol and raffinose constitute a novel function to protect plants from oxidative damage.

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Department of Advanced Bioscience, Faculty of Agriculture, Kinki University, 3327-204 Nakamachi, Nara 631-8505, Japan.


Galactinol synthase (GolS) is a key enzyme in the synthesis of raffinose family oligosaccharides that function as osmoprotectants in plant cells. In leaves of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants overexpressing heat shock transcription factor A2 (HsfA2), the transcription of GolS1, -2, and -4 and raffinose synthase 2 (RS2) was highly induced; thus, levels of galactinol and raffinose increased compared with those in wild-type plants under control growth conditions. In leaves of the wild-type plants, treatment with 50 mum methylviologen (MV) increased the transcript levels of not only HsfA2, but also GolS1, -2, -3, -4, and -8 and RS2, -4, -5, and -6, the total activities of GolS isoenzymes, and the levels of galactinol and raffinose. GolS1- or GolS2-overexpressing Arabidopsis plants (Ox-GolS1-11, Ox-GolS2-8, and Ox-GolS2-29) had increased levels of galactinol and raffinose in the leaves compared with wild-type plants under control growth conditions. High intracellular levels of galactinol and raffinose in the transgenic plants were correlated with increased tolerance to MV treatment and salinity or chilling stress. Galactinol and raffinose effectively protected salicylate from attack by hydroxyl radicals in vitro. These findings suggest the possibility that galactinol and raffinose scavenge hydroxyl radicals as a novel function to protect plant cells from oxidative damage caused by MV treatment, salinity, or chilling.

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