Deletion of any of the core enzymes of the photorespiratory cycle, one of the major pathways of plant primary metabolism, results in severe air-sensitivity of the respective mutants. The peroxisomal enzyme hydroxypyruvate reductase (HPR1) represents the only exception to this rule. This indicates the presence of extraperoxisomal reactions of photorespiratory hydroxypyruvate metabolism. We have identified a second hydroxypyruvate reductase, HPR2, and present genetic and biochemical evidence that the enzyme provides a cytosolic bypass to the photorespiratory core cycle in Arabidopsis thaliana. Deletion of HPR2 results in elevated levels of hydroxypyruvate and other metabolites in leaves. Photosynthetic gas exchange is slightly altered, especially under long-day conditions. Otherwise, the mutant closely resembles wild-type plants. The combined deletion of both HPR1 and HPR2, however, results in distinct air-sensitivity and a dramatic reduction in photosynthetic performance. These results suggest that photorespiratory metabolism is not confined to chloroplasts, peroxisomes, and mitochondria but also extends to the cytosol. The extent to which cytosolic reactions contribute to the operation of the photorespiratory cycle in varying natural environments is not yet known, but it might be dynamically regulated by the availability of NADH in the context of peroxisomal redox homeostasis.
2008. Vol. 20, 2848-2859 p.