The role of glutathione in photosynthetic organisms: emerging functions for glutaredoxins and glutathionylation

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2008;59:143-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.59.032607.092811.


Glutathione, a tripeptide with the sequence gamma-Glu-Cys-Gly, exists either in a reduced form with a free thiol group or in an oxidized form with a disulfide between two identical molecules. We describe here briefly the pathways involved in the synthesis, reduction, polymerization, and degradation of glutathione, as well as its distribution throughout the plant and its redox buffering capacities. The function of glutathione in xenobiotic and heavy metal detoxification, plant development, and plant-pathogen interactions is also briefly discussed. Several lines of evidence indicate that glutathione and glutaredoxins (GRXs) are implicated in the response to oxidative stress through the regeneration of enzymes involved in peroxide and methionine sulfoxide reduction. Finally, emerging functions for plant GRXs and glutathione concern the regulation of protein activity via glutathionylation and the capacity of some GRXs to bind iron sulfur centers and for some of them to transfer FeS clusters into apoproteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glutaredoxins / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photosynthesis*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • Glutaredoxins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione