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J Exp Bot. 2010 Jun;61(6):1549-66. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq030.

Tocochromanol functions in plants: antioxidation and beyond.

Author information

1
Carlsberg Research Center, 10 Gamle Carlsberg Vej, DK-2500 Valby, Denmark.

Abstract

Tocopherols and tocotrienols, collectively known as tocochromanols, are lipid-soluble molecules that belong to the group of vitamin E compounds and are essential in the human diet. Not surprisingly, most of what is known about the biological functions of tocochromanols comes from studies of mammalian systems, yet they have been shown to be synthesized only by photosynthetic organisms. The last decade has seen a radical change in the appreciation of the biological role of tocochromanols in plants thanks to a detailed characterization of mutant and transgenic plants, including several Arabidopsis thaliana mutants, the sucrose export defective1 (sxd1) maize mutant, and some transgenic potato and tobacco lines altered in tocochromanol biosynthesis. Recent findings indicate that tocopherols may play important roles in plants beyond their antioxidant function in photosynthetic membranes. Plants deficient in tocopherols show alterations in germination and export of photoassimilates, and growth, leaf senescence, and plant responses to abiotic stresses, thus suggesting that tocopherols may influence a number of physiological processes in plants. Thus, in this review not only the antioxidant function of tocochromanols in plants, but also these new emerging possible roles will be considered. Particular attention will be paid to specific roles attributed to different tocopherol homologues (particularly alpha- and gamma-tocopherol) and the possible functions of tocotrienols, which in contrast to tocopherols are only present in a range of unrelated plant groups and are almost exclusively found in seeds and fruits.

PMID:
20385544
DOI:
10.1093/jxb/erq030
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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