As reactive oxygen species (ROS) play critical roles in plants to determine cell fate in various physiological situations, there is keen interest in the biochemical processes of ROS signal transmission. Reactive carbonyl species (RCS), the α
-unsaturated aldehydes and ketones produced from lipid peroxides, due to their chemical property to covalently modify protein, can mediate ROS signals to proteins. Comprehensive carbonyl analysis in plants has revealed that more than a dozen different RCS, e.g., acrolein, 4-hydroxy-(E
)-2-nonenal and malondialdehyde, are produced from various membranes, and some of them increase and modify proteins in response to oxidative stimuli. At early stages of response, specific subsets of proteins are selectively modified with RCS. The involvement of RCS in ROS signaling can be judged on three criteria: (1) A stimulus to increase the ROS level in plants leads to the enhancement of RCS levels. (2) Suppression of the increase of RCS by scavenging enzymes or chemicals diminishes the ROS-induced response. (3) Addition of RCS to plants evokes responses similar to those induced by ROS. On these criteria, the RCS action as damaging/signaling agents has been demonstrated for root injury, programmed cell death, senescence of siliques, stomata response to abscisic acid, and root response to auxin. RCS thus act as damage/signal mediators downstream of ROS in a variety of physiological situations. A current picture and perspectives of RCS research are presented in this article.
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