Canavanine alters ROS/RNS level and leads to post-translational modification of proteins in roots of tomato seedlings

Urszula Krasuska, Olga Andrzejczak, Paweł Staszek, Renata Bogatek, Agnieszka Gniazdowska*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Canavanine (CAN), a structural analog of arginine (Arg), is used as a selective inhibitor of inducible NOS in mammals. CAN is incorporated into proteins’ structure in the place of Arg, leading to the formation of aberrant compounds. This non-protein amino acid is found in legumes, e.g., Canavalia ensiformis (L.) DC. or Sutherlandia frutescens (L.) R.Br. and acts as a strong toxin against herbivores or plants. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) seedlings were treated for 24–72 h with CAN (10 or 50 µM) inhibiting root growth by 50 or 100%, without lethal effect. We determined ROS level/production in root extracts, fluorescence of DAF-FM and APF derivatives corresponding to RNS level in roots of tomato seedlings and linked CAN-induced restriction of root growth to the post-translational modifications (PTMs) of proteins: carbonylation and nitration. Both PTMs are stable markers of nitro-oxidative stress, regarded as the plant’s secondary response to phytotoxins. CAN enhanced H2O2 content and superoxide radicals generation in extracts of tomato roots and stimulated formation of protein carbonyl groups. An elevated level of carbonylated proteins was characteristic for the plants after 72 h of the culture, mainly for the roots exposed to 10 mM CAN. The proteolytic activity was stimulated by tested non-protein amino acid. CAN treatment led to decline of fluorescence of DAF-FM derivatives, and transiently stimulated fluorescence of APF derivatives. Short-term exposure of tomato seedlings to CAN lowered the protein nitration level. Activity of peroxidase, polyamine oxidase and NADPH oxidase, enzymes acting as modulators of H2O2 concentration and governing root architecture and growth were determined. Activities of all enzymes were stimulated by CAN, but no strict CAN concentration dependence was observed. We conclude, that although CAN treatment led to a decline in the nitric oxide level, PTMs observed in roots of plants exposed to CAN are linked rather to the formation of carbonyl groups than to nitration, and are detected particularly after 24 h. Thus, oxidative stress and oxidative modifications of proteins seems to be of significant importance in the rapid response of plants to CAN.

Original languageEnglish
Article number840
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2016


  • NADPH oxidase
  • Peroxidase
  • Polyamine oxidase
  • Protein carbonylation
  • Protein nitration
  • Proteolysis
  • RNS
  • ROS


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