The Uncoupling Of Respiration In Plant Mitochondria: Keeping Reactive Oxygen And Nitrogen Species Under Control
Plant mitochondrial respiration involves the operation of various alternative pathways. These pathways participate, both directly and indirectly, in the maintenance of mitochondrial functions though they do not contribute to energy production, being uncoupled from the generation of an electrochemical gradient across the mitochondrial membrane and thus from ATP production. Recent findings suggest that uncoupled respiration is involved in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) scavenging, regulation, and homeostasis. Here we discuss specific roles and possible functions of uncoupled mitochondrial respiration in ROS and NO metabolism. The mechanisms of expression and regulation of the NDA-, NDB- and NDC-type non-coupled NADH and NADPH dehydrogenases, the alternative oxidase (AOX), and the uncoupling protein (UCP) are examined in relation to their involvement in the establishment of the stable far-from-equilibrium state of plant metabolism. The role of uncoupled respiration in controlling the levels of ROS and NO as well as inducing signaling events is considered. Secondary functions of uncoupled respiration include its role in protection from stress factors and roles in biosynthesis and catabolism. It is concluded that uncoupled mitochondrial respiration plays an important role in providing rapid adaptation of plants to changing environmental factors via regulation of ROS and NO.