The inhibitor-evoked shortage of tocopherol and plastoquinol is compensated by other antioxidant mechanisms in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii exposed to toxic concentrations of cadmium and chromium ions

Nowicka B, Fesenko T, Walczak J, Kruk J


One of the major mechanisms of heavy metal toxicity is the induction of oxidative stress. Redox-active heavy metals, like chromium, can induce it directly, whereas redox-inactive metals, like cadmium, play an indirect role in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Living organisms defend themselves against oxidative stress taking advantage of low-molecular-weight antioxidants and ROS-detoxifying enzymes. Tocopherols and plastoquinol are important plastid prenyllipid antioxidants, playing a role during acclimation of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to heavy metal-induced stress. However, partial inhibition of synthesis of these prenyllipids by pyrazolate did not decrease the tolerance of C. reinhardtii to Cr- and Cd-induced stress, suggesting redundancy between antioxidant mechanisms. To verify this hypothesis we have performed comparative analyses of growth, photosynthetic pigments, low-molecular-weight antioxidants (tocopherols, plastoquinol, plastochromanol, ascorbate, soluble thiols, proline), activities of the ascorbate peroxidase (APX), catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD) and cumulative superoxide production in C. reinhardtii exposed to Cd2+ and Cr2O72- ions in the presence or absence of pyrazolate. The decreased α-tocopherol and plastoquinol content resulted in the increase in superoxide generation and APX activity in pyrazolate-treated algae. The application of heavy metal ions and pyrazolate had a pronounced impact on Asc and total thiol content, as well as SOD and APX activities (the latter only in Cd-exposed cultures), when compared with algae grown in the presence of heavy metal ions or pyrazolate alone. The superoxide production in cultures exposed to heavy metal ions and pyrazolate decreased when compared to the cultures exposed to either heavy metal ions or an inhibitor alone.

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