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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Oct 12;107(41):17815-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006971107. Epub 2010 Sep 13.

Plastochromanol-8 and tocopherols are essential lipid-soluble antioxidants during seed desiccation and quiescence in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemistry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Given their essential role as vitamin E, tocopherols and tocotrienols have been studied extensively in animals and plants. In contrast, our understanding of the function of plastochromanol-8 (PC-8), a third type of tocochromanol with a longer side chain, is very limited despite the wide distribution of PC-8 in the plant kingdom, including species consumed by humans. To investigate PC-8 function in vivo, we combined the Arabidopsis vte1 mutation that eliminates tocopherols and PC-8 and causes the accumulation of 2,3-dimethyl-6-phytyl-1,4-benzoquinol (DMPBQ), a redox-active tocopherol precursor, and the vte2 mutation that eliminates tocopherols without affecting PC-8. The vte2 vte1 double mutant lacks tocopherols, PC-8, and DMPBQ, and exhibits the most severe physiological and biochemical phenotypes of any tocochromanol-affected genotype isolated to date, most notably a severe seedling developmental phenotype associated with massive lipid oxidation initiated during seed desiccation and amplified during seed quiescence. In contrast, the presence of PC-8 in vte2 suppresses or attenuates all of the developmental and biochemical phenotypes observed in vte2 vte1, demonstrating that PC-8 is a lipid antioxidant in vivo. Finally, the low relative fitness of vte2 vte1 demonstrates that tocopherols and PC-8 are in vivo lipid antioxidants essential for seed plant survival.

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