, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 66-80
Date: 10 Jan 2009

Glutathione as an Antioxidant and Regulatory Molecule in Plants Under Abiotic Stress Conditions

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The glutathione (GSH)/glutathione disulfide (GSSG) redox couple is involved in several physiologic processes in plants under both optimal and stress conditions. It participates in the maintenance of redox homeostasis in the cells. The redox state of the GSH/GSSG couple is defined by its reducing capacity and the half-cell reduction potential, and differs in the various organs, tissues, cells, and compartments, changing during the growth and development of the plants. When characterizing this redox couple, the synthesis, degradation, oxidation, and transport of GSH and its conjugation with the sulfhydryl groups of other compounds should be considered. Under optimal growth conditions, the high GSH/GSSG ratio results in a reducing environment in the cells which maintains the appropriate structure and activity of protein molecules because of the inhibition of the formation of intermolecular disulfide bridges. In response to abiotic stresses, the GSH/GSSG ratio decreases due to the oxidation of GSH during the detoxification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and changes in its metabolism. The lower GSH/GSSG ratio activates various defense mechanisms through a redox signalling pathway, which includes several oxidants, antioxidants, and stress hormones. In addition, GSH may control gene expression and the activity of proteins through glutathionylation and thiol-disulfide conversion. This review discusses the size and redox state of the GSH pool, including their regulation, their role in redox signalling and defense processes, and the changes caused by abiotic stress.