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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(1):9-18. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern297. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Sucrose, sucrosyl oligosaccharides, and oxidative stress: scavenging and salvaging?

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Laboratory for Molecular Plant Physiology, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium.


In nature, no single plant completes its life cycle without encountering environmental stress. When plant cells surpass stress threshold stimuli, chemically reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated that can cause oxidative damage or act as signals. Plants have developed numerous ROS-scavenging systems to minimize the cytotoxic effects of ROS. The role of sucrosyl oligosaccharides (SOS), including fructans and the raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs), is well established during stress physiology. They are believed to act as important membrane protectors in planta. So far a putative role for sucrose and SOS during oxidative stress has largely been neglected, as has the contribution of the vacuolar compartment. Recent studies suggest a link between SOS and oxidative defence and/or scavenging. SOS might be involved in stabilizing membrane-associated peroxidases and NADPH oxidases, and SOS-derived radicals might fulfil an intermediate role in oxido-reduction reactions taking place in the vicinity of membranes. Here, these emerging features are discussed and perspectives for future research are provided.

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