Plant cysteine oxidases are dioxygenases that directly enable arginyl transferase-catalysed arginylation of N-end rule targets.
White MD., Klecker M., Hopkinson RJ., Weits DA., Mueller C., Naumann C., O'Neill R., Wickens J., Yang J., Brooks-Bartlett JC., Garman EF., Grossmann TN., Dissmeyer N., Flashman E.
Crop yield loss due to flooding is a threat to food security. Submergence-induced hypoxia in plants results in stabilization of group VII ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTORs (ERF-VIIs), which aid survival under these adverse conditions. ERF-VII stability is controlled by the N-end rule pathway, which proposes that ERF-VII N-terminal cysteine oxidation in normoxia enables arginylation followed by proteasomal degradation. The PLANT CYSTEINE OXIDASEs (PCOs) have been identified as catalysts of this oxidation. ERF-VII stabilization in hypoxia presumably arises from reduced PCO activity. We directly demonstrate that PCO dioxygenase activity produces Cys-sulfinic acid at the N terminus of an ERF-VII peptide, which then undergoes efficient arginylation by an arginyl transferase (ATE1). This provides molecular evidence of N-terminal Cys-sulfinic acid formation and arginylation by N-end rule pathway components, and a substrate of ATE1 in plants. The PCOs and ATE1 may be viable intervention targets to stabilize N-end rule substrates, including ERF-VIIs, to enhance submergence tolerance in agriculture.