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Free Radic Biol Med. 1990;9(5):427-34.

Oxidative protein modification as predigestive mechanism of the carnivorous plant Dionaea muscipula: an hypothesis based on in vitro experiments.

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  • 1Institut für Botanik und Mikrobiologie, Technische Universität München, FRG.


Aqueous leaf extracts from Dionaea muscipula contain quinones such as the naphthoquinone plumbagin that couple to different NADH-dependent diaphorases, producing superoxide and hydrogen peroxide upon autoxidation. Upon preincubation of Dionaea extracts with certain diaphorases and NADH in the presence of serumalbumin (SA), subsequent tryptic digestion of SA is facilitated. Since the secretroy glands of Droseracea contain proteases and possibly other degradative enzymes it is suggested that the presence of oxygen-activating redox cofactors in the extracts function as extracellular predigestive oxidants which render membrane-bound proteins of the prey (insects) more susceptible to proteolytic attacks.

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