Modeling the Ascorbate-Glutathione Cycle in Chloroplasts under Light/Dark Conditions
Martínez de la Fuente Martínez, Ildefonso Abel
Hernández, José Antonio
González Sánchez, María Isabel
García Carmona, Francisco
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BMC Systems Biology 10 : (2016) // Article ID 11
Background: Light/dark cycles are probably the most important environmental signals that regulate plant development. Light is essential for photosynthesis, but an excess, in combination with the unavoidable presence of atmospheric oxygen inside the chloroplast, leads to excessive reactive oxygen species production. Among the defense mechanisms that activate plants to cope with environmental stress situations, it is worth noting the ascorbate-glutathione cycle, a complex metabolic pathway in which a variety of photochemical, chemical and enzymatic steps are involved. Results: We herein studied the dynamic behavior of this pathway under light/dark conditions and for several consecutive days. For this purpose, a mathematical model was developed including a variable electron source with a rate law proportional to the intensity of solar irradiance during the photoperiod, and which is continuously turned off at night and on again the next day. The model is defined by a nonlinear system of ordinary differential equations with an on/off time-dependent input, including a parameter to simulate the fact that the photoperiod length is not constant throughout the year, and which takes into account the particular experimental kinetics of each enzyme involved in the pathway. Unlike previous models, which have only provided steady-state solutions, the present model is able to simulate diurnal fluctuations in the metabolite concentrations, fluxes and enzymatic rates involved in the network. Conclusions: The obtained results are broadly consistent with experimental observations and highlight the key role played by ascorbate recycling for plants to adapt to their surrounding environment. This approach provides a new strategy to in vivo studies to analyze plant defense mechanisms against oxidative stress induced by external changes, which can also be extrapolated to other complex metabolic pathways to constitute a useful tool to the scientific community in general.