Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Copper-containing amine oxidases contribute to terminal polyamine oxidation in peroxisomes and apoplast of Arabidopsis thaliana

Joan Planas-Portell12, Marta Gallart12, Antonio F Tiburcio2 and Teresa Altabella12*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Genetics, Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) (CSIC-IRTA-UAB-UB), Campus UAB, Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona, Spain

2 Laboratory of Plant Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:109  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-109

Published: 5 August 2013



Polyamines (PAs) are oxidatively deaminated at their primary or secondary amino-groups by copper-containing amine oxidases (CuAOs) or FAD-dependent amine oxidases (PAOs), respectively. Both enzymes have long been considered to be apoplastic proteins. However, three out of five PAO isoforms in Arabidopsis thaliana are localized in peroxisomes, while the other two PAOs are predicted to be cytosolic. Interestingly, most of these PAOs do not contribute to terminal PA oxidation, but instead are involved in the back-conversion pathway, producing spermidine from spermine and putrescine from spermidine, which in turn is inhibited by putrescine. This opens the question as to whether PAs are catabolized in the apoplast of Arabidopsis and if the terminal oxidation occurs in the peroxisomes. The main objective of this study was to know if these catabolic processes are mediated by CuAOs.


A. thaliana contains ten genes annotated as CuAOs, but only one (ATAO1) has been characterized at the protein level. Reported herein is the characterization of three genes encoding putative Arabidopsis CuAOs (AtCuAO1, AtCuAO2 and AtCuAO3). These genes encode functional CuAOs that use putrescine and spermidine as substrates. AtCuAO1, like ATAO1, is an extracellular protein, while AtCuAO2 and AtCuAO3 are localized in peroxisomes. The three genes present a different expression profile in response to exogenous treatments, such as application of abcisic acid, methyl jasmonate, salycilic acid, flagellin 22 and wounding.


PA catabolism in the Arabidopsis apoplast is mediated predominantly by CuAOs, while in peroxisomes the co-localization of CuAO-dependent terminal catabolism with PAO-back-conversion machineries might contribute to modulating putrescine-mediated inhibition of the back-conversion, suggesting the occurrence of a tight coordination between both catabolic pathways. The expression profile of AtCuAO1-3 in response to different exogenous treatments, together with the different localization of the corresponding proteins, provides evidence for the functional diversification of Arabidopsis CuAO proteins.