Possible functions of extracellular peroxidases in stress-induced generation and detoxification of active oxygen species

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Extracellular peroxidases are classified as free, or ionically or covalently bound to the cell wall. In addition, peroxidase-like activities have often been demonstrated at the outer surface of protoplasts and plasma membrane preparations. Under certain conditions apoplastic peroxidases have been shown to contribute to the formation of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide during the ‘oxidative burst’ through the oxidation of a reductant. However, the identity of this reductant remains unclear. It has been suggested that the production of these active oxygen species may play important roles in plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress. Extracellular release of pre-existing and de novo synthesis of apoplastic peroxidases is regulated by changing environmental conditions. While the oxidative burst could potentially be harmful to a plant's own cells, tissues can rapidly metabolize even high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Recent work has shown that when extracellular hydrogen peroxide exceeds the supplies of reductants, class II and class III peroxidases can display catalase-like activity. Under these conditions, hydrogen peroxide is able to act as both oxidizing and reducing substrate. It seems likely therefore, that a further role of extracellular peroxidases is to protect plants from the consequences of the oxidative burst that they themselves are responsible for producing.

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