Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.272, No.3, 783-788, 2000
Plant Rac proteins induce superoxide production in mammalian cells
The small GTP-binding protein family including Rac proteins represents a paradigm for signaling molecules shared by animal and plants. In mammalian cells, Rac induces the activation of NADPH oxidase leading to superoxide production. In plants, evidence suggests that resistance to pathogens depends on superoxide that is generated via NADPH oxidase-like enzymes. We have identified four closely related Rho/Rac genes from Zea mays th:lt exhibit a high degree of homology to the human Rac. We hypothesized that these plant Rac proteins could function as their mammalian counterpart and activate an enzymatic complex that leads to superoxide production. Here, we show that like human Rac1, activated Zea mays Rac genes can induce superoxide production, when expressed in a mammalian system: NIH 3T3 cells. Our results suggest that in plants, Rac proteins can function as activators of oxidative burst and indicate the remarkable functional and structural conservation of Rho/Rac proteins between plant and animal kingdoms during evolution.