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FEBS Lett. 1997 Sep 15;414(3):567-70.

Dehydroascorbate and dehydroascorbate reductase are phantom indicators of oxidative stress in plants.

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Universität Kassel, Biochemie, Germany.


In many physiological studies dehydroascorbate (DHA) reductase is regarded as one of the chloroplast enzymes involved in the protection against oxidative stress. Here, evidence is presented that plant cells do not possess a specific DHA reductase. The DHA reductase activities measured in plant extracts are due to side reactions of proteins containing redox-active dicysteine sites. Native gel electrophoresis combined with specific activity staining revealed three different proteins with DHA reductase activity in leaf and chloroplast extracts. These proteins have been identified as thioredoxins and trypsin inhibitors (Kunitz type) by Western blot analysis. The essential regulatory functions of thioredoxins in chloroplast metabolism are strongly inhibited in the presence of as little as 50 microM DHA. Thus, the intracellular DHA concentration should be kept below 50 microM but not all proteins with DHA reductase activity are effective enough for this purpose. A specific DHA reductase is frequently demanded as part of the enzymatic equipment to avoid oxidative stress. We argue that this is not necessary because in chloroplasts DHA does not accumulate to any significant extent due to the high activities of monodehydroascorbate reductase and of reduced ferredoxin.

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