• Active oxygen;
  • ascorbate peroxidase;
  • chloroplasts;
  • cytochrome c peroxidase;
  • molecular evolution;
  • scavenging of hydrogen peroxide

Ascorbate peroxidase is a hydrogen peroxide-scavenging enzyme that is specific to plants and algae and is indispensable to protect chloroplasts and other cell constituents from damage by hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals produced from it. In this review, first, the participation of ascorbate peroxidase in the scavenging of hydrogen peroxide in chloroplasts is briefly described. Subsequently, the phylogenic distribution of ascorbate peroxidase in relation to other hydrogen peroxide-scavenging peroxidases using glutathione, NADH and cytochrome c is summarized. Chloroplastic and cytosolic isozymes of ascorbate peroxidase have been found, and show some differences in enzymatic properties. The basic properties of ascorbate peroxidases, however, are very different from those of the guaiacol peroxidases so far isolated from plant tissues. Amino acid sequence and other molecular properties indicate that ascorbate peroxidase resembles cytochrome c peroxidase from fungi rather than guaiacol peroxidase from plants, and it is proposed that the plant and yeast hydrogen peroxide-scavenging peroxidases have the same ancestor.