Nitric oxide production and signalling

Nitric oxide (NO) production is associated with many physiological situations in plants, and NO is a key signaling molecule throughout the lifespan of a plant. The complexity of the underlying signaling events are just starting to be unraveled. The basis for nitric oxide signaling, the production of the signalling molecule itself, is far from understood in plants. While in animals, three homologous NO synthases (NOS) isoforms have been identified, yet in higher plants no corresponding enzymes are known so far. More than half a dozen NO productive reactions have been observed in plants but only few of them have been thoroughly investigated. It remains to be elucidated how these parts act together to form the sophisticated NO signalling network observed in plants.

More than half a dozen NO producting proteins and/or pathways have been observed in plants. In some cases the origin is well-known (e.g. nitrate reductase), while in others the origin is of rather putative nature (e.g. Arg-dependent NO formation).

During the last two decades nitric oxide (NO) has emerged as a new chemical messenger in plant biology, which is involved in many different physiological processes, such as plant defense, transpiration and gas exchange, seed germination, and root development. It is common that many of the biological functions of NO arise from two major signalling pathways: (1) as a direct consequence of chemical reactions between proteins and NO or NO oxides, and (2) through the classical signalling via cyclic guanosine 3′,5′ monophosphate (cGMP).

In higher plants, cGMP functions as second messenger in many physiological processes including nitric oxide (NO)-dependent signalling in biotic and and abiotic stress responses such as NaCl and drought stress, ozone and pathogen challenge. cGMP is an essential downstream signalling molecule in NO-mediated pathogen defence responses and is required for the induction of stress-related genes. We want to elucidate the function of GCs in plant responses to environmental stimuli. Our approaches include KOs of GCs, cGMP diesterases and genes involved in NO-generation in conjunction with various environmental stress scenarios.

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