A deeply conserved protease, acylamino acid-releasing enzyme (AARE), acts in ageing in Physcomitrella and Arabidopsis

Commun Biol. 2023 Jan 17;6(1):61. doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-04428-7.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are constant by-products of aerobic life. In excess, ROS lead to cytotoxic protein aggregates, which are a hallmark of ageing in animals and linked to age-related pathologies in humans. Acylamino acid-releasing enzymes (AARE) are bifunctional serine proteases, acting on oxidized proteins. AARE are found in all domains of life, albeit under different names, such as acylpeptide hydrolase (APEH/ACPH), acylaminoacyl peptidase (AAP), or oxidized protein hydrolase (OPH). In humans, AARE malfunction is associated with age-related pathologies, while their function in plants is less clear. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of AARE genes in the plant lineage and an in-depth analysis of AARE localization and function in the moss Physcomitrella and the angiosperm Arabidopsis. AARE loss-of-function mutants have not been described for any organism so far. We generated and analysed such mutants and describe a connection between AARE function, aggregation of oxidized proteins and plant ageing, including accelerated developmental progression and reduced life span. Our findings complement similar findings in animals and humans, and suggest a unified concept of ageing may exist in different life forms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis* / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis* / genetics
  • Bryopsida* / enzymology
  • Bryopsida* / genetics
  • Peptide Hydrolases* / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • acylaminoacyl-peptidase
  • Peptide Hydrolases
  • Reactive Oxygen Species