Reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by NADPH oxidases play critical roles in signalling and development. Given the high toxicity of ROS, their production is tightly regulated. In Arabidopsis, respiratory burst oxidase homologue F (AtrbohF) encodes NADPH oxidase. Here we characterised the activation of AtRbohF using a heterologous expression system. AtRbohF exhibited ROS-producing activity that was synergistically activated by protein phosphorylation and Ca2+. The two EF-hand motifs of AtRbohF in the N-terminal cytosolic region were crucial for its Ca2+-dependent activation. AtrbohD and AtrbohF are involved in stress responses. Although the activation mechanisms for AtRbohD and AtRbohF were similar, AtRbohD had significantly greater ROS-producing activity than AtRbohF, which may reflect their functional diversity, at least in part. We further characterised the interrelationship between Ca2+ and phosphorylation regarding activation and found that protein phosphorylation-induced activation was independent of Ca2+. In contrast, K-252a, a protein kinase inhibitor, inhibited the Ca2+-dependent ROS-producing activity of AtRbohD and AtRbohF in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that protein phosphorylation is a prerequisite for the Ca2+-dependent activation of Rboh. Positive feedback regulation of Ca2+ and ROS through AtRbohC has been proposed to play a critical role in root hair tip growth. Our findings suggest that Rboh phosphorylation is the initial trigger for the plant Ca2+-ROS signalling network.
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