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Metal and oxidative stress tolerance

Environmental stresses reduce plant productivity.  Both abiotic and biotic stresses disrupt normal cellular homeostasis leading to elevated levels of reactive oxygen species that in turn leads to cellular damage and cell death.  We have been interested in the molecular mechanisms of plant tolerance to heavy metals, which also leads to oxidative stress.

Previously, we described Arabidopsis Oxidative Stress 2 (OXS2) as a transcription factor for regulating stress escape in response to oxidative and metal stress.  Ph.D. student HE Lilong and colleagues have since extended this research to crop species and reported that members of the maize OXS2 family can activate transcription of a gene encoding a putative SAM-dependent methyltransferase, a new factor for enhanced Cd tolerance.He, L., M., X., Li, Z., Jiao, Z., Li, Y., Ow, D.W. 2016.Maize OXIDATIVE STRESS 2 homologs enhance cadmium tolerance in Arabidopsis through activation of a putative SAM-dependent methyltransferase gene.  Plant Physiology 171:1675-1685.  

Previously, we described Arabidopsis Oxidative Stress 3 (OXS3) as a putative histone modification factor in response to oxidative and metal stress. Assistant Researcher Wang Changhu and colleagues have shown that overproducing certain rice OXS3 family member proteins can lower the cadmium content in rice grain.  Due to soil pollution problems in China, rice with high Cd content has been found in recent years.  As this problem cannot be solved easily through soil remediation, the engineering of low cadmium rice may provide a solution to minimize dietary intake of cadmium.Wang, C., Guo, W., Ye, S., Wei, P., Ow, D.W.  2016. Reduction of Cd in rice through expression of OXS3-like gene fragments.  Molecular Plant, 9:301-304.  

Most recently, Postdoctoral fellow He Yumei and colleagues elucidated a new cadmium induced disulfide stress pathway in the fission yeast.   This new Oxs1-Pap1 regulatory pathway appears evolutionarily conserved, as heterologous (human, mouse and Arabidopsis) Oxs1 and Pap1-homologues can bind interchangeably with each other in vitro, and at least in the fission yeast, heterologous Oxs1 and Pap1-homologues can substitute for S. pombe Oxs1 and Pap1 to enhance stress tolerance.He, Y., Chen, Y., Song, W., Zhu, L., Dong, Z., Ow, D.W.  2016. A Pap1-Oxs1 signaling pathway for disulfide stress in Schizosaccharomycespombe.  Nucleic Acids Research, doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw818.  

For more research progress, please refer to the following website:


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