PLANT MITOCHONDRIA AND OXIDATIVE STRESS: Electron Transport, NADPH Turnover, and Metabolism of Reactive Oxygen Species

Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol. 2001 Jun;52:561-591. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.52.1.561.


The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as O2- and H2O2, is an unavoidable consequence of aerobic metabolism. In plant cells the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) is a major site of ROS production. In addition to complexes I-IV, the plant mitochondrial ETC contains a non-proton-pumping alternative oxidase as well as two rotenone-insensitive, non-proton-pumping NAD(P)H dehydrogenases on each side of the inner membrane: NDex on the outer surface and NDin on the inner surface. Because of their dependence on Ca2+, the two NDex may be active only when the plant cell is stressed. Complex I is the main enzyme oxidizing NADH under normal conditions and is also a major site of ROS production, together with complex III. The alternative oxidase and possibly NDin(NADH) function to limit mitochondrial ROS production by keeping the ETC relatively oxidized. Several enzymes are found in the matrix that, together with small antioxidants such as glutathione, help remove ROS. The antioxidants are kept in a reduced state by matrix NADPH produced by NADP-isocitrate dehydrogenase and non-proton-pumping transhydrogenase activities. When these defenses are overwhelmed, as occurs during both biotic and abiotic stress, the mitochondria are damaged by oxidative stress.