Anoxic nitric oxide cycling in plants: participating reactions and possible mechanisms




At sufficiently low oxygen concentrations, hemeproteins are deoxygenated and become capable of reducing nitrite to nitric oxide (NO), in a reversal of the reaction in which NO is converted to nitrate or nitrite by oxygenated hemeproteins. The maximum rates of NO production depend on the oxygen avidity. The hemeproteins with the highest avidity, such as hexacoordinate hemoglobins, retain oxygen even under anoxic conditions resulting in their being extremely effective NO scavengers but essentially incapable of producing NO. Deoxyhemeprotein-related NO production can be observed in mitochondria (at the levels of cytochrome c oxidase, cytochrome c, complex III and possibly other sites), in plasma membrane, cytosol, endoplasmic reticulum and peroxisomes. In mitochondria, the use of nitrite as an alternative electron acceptor can contribute to a limited rate of ATP synthesis. Non-heme metal-containing proteins such as nitrate reductase and xanthine oxidase can also be involved in NO production. This will result in a strong anoxic redox flux of nitrogen through the hemoglobin-NO cycle involving nitrate reductase, nitrite: NO reductase, and NO dioxygenase. In normoxic conditions, NO is produced in very low quantities, mainly for signaling purposes and this nitrogen cycling is inoperative.