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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(2):391-408. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern318. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Specific functions of individual class III peroxidase genes.

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Laboratory of Plant Physiology, University of Geneva, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


In higher plants, class III peroxidases exist as large multigene families (e.g. 73 genes in Arabidopsis thaliana). The diversity of processes catalysed by peroxidases as well as the large number of their genes suggests the possibility of a functional specialization of each isoform. In addition, the fact that peroxidase promoter sequences are very divergent and that protein sequences contain both highly conserved domains and variable regions supports this hypothesis. However, two difficulties are associated with the study of the function of specific peroxidase genes: (i) the modification of the expression of a single peroxidase gene often results in no visible mutant phenotype, because it is compensated by redundant genes; and (ii) peroxidases show low substrate specificity in vitro resulting in an unreliable indication of peroxidase specific activity unless complementary data are available. The generalization of molecular biology approaches such as whole transcriptome analysis and recombinant DNA combined with biochemical approaches provide unprecedented tools for overcoming these difficulties. This review highlights progress made with these new techniques for identifying the specific function of individual class III peroxidase genes taking as an example the model plant A. thaliana, as well as discussing some other plants.

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