α-Tocopherol: A Multifaceted Molecule in Plants

  • Munné-Bosch S
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Abstract

α-Tocopherol, which belongs to the vitamin E group of compounds, is a lipophilic antioxidant that has a number of functions in plants. Synthesized from homogentisic acid and isopentenyl diphosphate in the chloroplast envelope, α-tocopherol is essential to maintain the integrity of photosynthetic membranes and plays a major role in photo- and antioxidant protection. α-Tocopherol scavenges lipid peroxy radicals, thereby preventing the propagation of lipid peroxidation, and protects lipids and other membrane components by physically quenching and reacting chemically with singlet oxygen. Moreover, given that α-tocopherol increases membrane rigidity, its concentration, together with that of the other membrane components, may be regulated to afford adequate fluidity for membrane function. Furthermore, recent studies on tocopherol-deficient plants indicate that α-tocopherol may affect cellular signaling in plants. Evidence thus far indicates that the effects of this compound in plant cellular signaling may be linked to the control of redox homeostasis. α-Tocopherol may influence cellular signaling by controlling the propagation of lipid peroxidation in chloroplasts, therefore modulating the formation of oxylipins such as the phytohormone jasmonic acid. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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