Role of Phytochelatins in Heavy Metal Stress and Detoxification Mechanisms in plants

Dharmendra Kumar Gupta,, Hildegarde Vandenhove, Masahiro Inouhe, Nele Horemans

    Research outputpeer-review


    Plants respond to heavy metal stress in the environment in different ways. The responses include immobilization, exclusion, chelation, and compartmentalization of the metal ions. Simultaneously, plants have general stress response mechanisms within their system especially through the expression of stress molecules like metallothionein and phytochelatins (PCs). PCs are the best-characterized heavy metal chelators especially in the context of cadmium (Cd) tolerance in plants. PCs are non-protein cysteine-rich oligopeptides having the general structure of (γ-glutamyl-cysteinyl) n-glycine (n=2–11) and produced by the enzyme phytochelatin synthase. They are capable of binding to various metals including Cd, As Cu, or Zn via sulfhydryl and carboxyl residues, but the biosynthesis is predominantlyy controlled by the metal Cd or metalloid As. The fundamental roles of PCs in metal detoxification by plant cells are well known and tolerance of Cd increases in yeast and bacteria with the overexpression of PC synthase genes. Sequestration of PC-metal complex occurs at the vacuole, where PCs are involved in the accumulation of the metal as complexes. The role of PCs may further be explored to improve the metal detoxification activities and tolerance characteristics of higher plants under various conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHeavy Metal Stress in Plants
    Place of PublicationGermany
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)978-3-642-38468-4, 978-3-642-38469-1
    StatePublished - Aug 2013

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