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Plant Signal Behav. 2010 Jan;5(1):14-20.

Siroheme: an essential component for life on earth.

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School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.


Life on earth is dependent on sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N). In plants, the second step in the reduction of sulphate and nitrate are mediated by the enzymes sulphite and nitrite reductases, which contain the iron (Fe)-containing siroheme as a cofactor. It is synthesized from the tetrapyrrole primogenitor uroporphyrinogen III in the plastids via three enzymatic reactions, methylation, oxidation and ferrochelatation. Without siroheme biosynthesis, there would be no life on earth. Limitations in siroheme should have an enormous effect on the S- and N-metabolism, plant growth, development, fitness and reproduction, biotic and abiotic stresses including growth under S, N and Fe limitations, and the response to pathogens and beneficial interaction partners. Furthermore, the vast majority of redox-reactions in plants depend on S-components, and S-containing compounds are also involved in the detoxification of heavy metals and other chemical toxins. Disturbance of siroheme biosynthesis may cause the accumulation of light-sensitive intermediates and reactive oxygen species, which are harmful, or they can function as signaling molecules and participate in interorganellar signaling processes. This review highlights the role of siroheme in these scenarios.


iron; nitrogen; plant/microbe interaction; redox; siroheme; sulphur

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