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Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr 2;14(4):7405-32. doi: 10.3390/ijms14047405.

A central role for thiols in plant tolerance to abiotic stress.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Biology, Sofia University, 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria.


Abiotic stress poses major problems to agriculture and increasing efforts are being made to understand plant stress response and tolerance mechanisms and to develop new tools that underpin successful agriculture. However, the molecular mechanisms of plant stress tolerance are not fully understood, and the data available is incomplete and sometimes contradictory. Here, we review the significance of protein and non-protein thiol compounds in relation to plant tolerance of abiotic stress. First, the roles of the amino acids cysteine and methionine, are discussed, followed by an extensive discussion of the low-molecular-weight tripeptide, thiol glutathione, which plays a central part in plant stress response and oxidative signalling and of glutathione-related enzymes, including those involved in the biosynthesis of non-protein thiol compounds. Special attention is given to the glutathione redox state, to phytochelatins and to the role of glutathione in the regulation of the cell cycle. The protein thiol section focuses on glutaredoxins and thioredoxins, proteins with oxidoreductase activity, which are involved in protein glutathionylation. The review concludes with a brief overview of and future perspectives for the involvement of plant thiols in abiotic stress tolerance.

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