Structural determinants of plant peroxidase function

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The classical plant peroxidases are a well-studied group of heme-containing enzymes for which many different functions have been proposed. In the majority of plant species investigated they occur as distinctive isoenzymes which can be constitutive or induced in response to external factors such as wounding, stress and attack by pathogens. More than 70 peroxidase isoenzymes are predicted to occur in Arabidopsis thaliana alone, according to recent analysis of the complete peroxidase gene family of this model plant. Understanding this enzymatic diversity and its functional significance is a major focus of structural and mechanistic studies of plant peroxidases. The three-dimensional structures of plant peroxidases from Arabidopsis, barley, horseradish, peanut and soybean have now been determined by X-ray crystallography together with the structures of several catalytic intermediates and substrate complexes that are relevant to enzyme function. On this basis, specific roles for particular amino acid residues and structural motifs or regions have been proposed or in some cases, confirmed. Some of these have been investigated experimentally using site-directed mutagenesis and other techniques. An overview of recent developments will be presented that reflects our current understanding of structure and function in this important group of enzymes.

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