Identification, expression, and taxonomic distribution of alternative oxidases in non-angiosperm plants.
Alternative oxidase (AOX) is a terminal ubiquinol oxidase present in the respiratory chain of all angiosperms investigated to date, but AOX distribution in other members of the Viridiplantae is less clear. We assessed the taxonomic distribution of AOX using bioinformatics. Multiple sequence alignments compared AOX proteins and examined amino acid residues involved in AOX catalytic function and post-translational regulation. Novel AOX sequences were found in both Chlorophytes and Streptophytes and we conclude that AOX is widespread in the Viridiplantae. AOX multigene families are common in non-angiosperm plants and the appearance of AOX1 and AOX2 subtypes pre-dates the divergence of the Coniferophyta and Magnoliophyta. Residues involved in AOX catalytic function are highly conserved between Chlorophytes and Streptophytes, while AOX post-translational regulation likely differs in these two lineages. We demonstrate experimentally that an AOX gene is present in the moss Physcomitrella patens and that the gene is transcribed. Our findings suggest that AOX will likely exert an influence on plant respiration and carbon metabolism in non-angiosperms such as green algae, bryophytes, liverworts, lycopods, ferns, gnetophytes, and gymnosperms and that further research in these systems is required.