Determination of enzymes associated with sulfite toxicity in plants: Kinetic assays for SO, APR, SiR, and In-Gel SiR activity

Galina Brychkova, Assylay Kurmanbayeva, Aizat Bekturova, Inna Khozin, Dominic Standing, Dmitry Yarmolinsky, Moshe Sagi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The amino acid cysteine plays a major role in plant response to abiotic stress by being the donor of elemental sulfur for the sulfuration of the molybdenum cofactor, otherwise the last step of ABA biosynthesis, the oxidation of abscisic aldehyde, is inactivated. Additionally, cysteine serves as a precursor for the biosynthesis of glutathione, the reactive oxygen species scavenger essential for redox status homeostasis during stress. Cysteine is generated by the sulfate reductive pathway where sulfite oxidase (SO; EC is an important enzyme in the homeostasis of sulfite levels (present either as a toxic intermediate in the pathway or as a toxic air pollutant that has penetrated the plant tissue via the stomata). SO is localized to the peroxisomes and detoxifies excess sulfite by catalyzing its oxidation to sulfate. Here we show a kinetic assay that relies on fuchsin colorimetric detection of sulfite, a substrate of SO activity. This SO assay is highly specific, technically simple, and readily performed in any laboratory. 5′-adenylylsulfate (APS) reductase (APR, E.C. enzyme regulates a crucial step of sulfate assimilation in plants, algae and some human pathogens. The enzyme is upregulated in response to oxidative stress induced by abiotic stresses, such as salinity and hydrogen peroxide, to generate sulfite an intermediate for cysteine generation essential for the biosynthesis of glutathione, the hydrogen peroxide scavenger. Here we present two robust, sensitive, and simple colorimetric methods of APR activity based on sulfite determination by fuchsin. Sulfite reductase (SiR) is one of the key enzymes in the primary sulfur assimilation pathway. It has been shown that SiR is an important plant enzyme for protection plant against sulfite toxicity and premature senescence. Here we describe two methods for SiR activity determination: a kinetic assay using desalted extract and an in-gel assay using crude extract. Due to the energetically favorable equilibrium, sulfurtransferase (ST) activity measured as sulfite generation or consumption. Sulfite-generating ST activity is determined by colorimetric detection of SCN formation at 460 nm as the red Fe(SCN)3 complex from cyanide and thiosulfate using acidic iron reagent. Sulfite-consuming (MST) activity is detected as sulfite disappearance in the presence of thiocyanate (SCN) or as SCN disappearance. To abrogate interfering SO activity, total ST activities is detected by inhibiting SO activity with tungstate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • 5′-Adenylylsulfate (APS) Reductase
  • Coupled reaction
  • Fuchsin colorimetric detection method
  • In-gel assay
  • Kinetic assay
  • Sulfite
  • Sulfite oxidase
  • Sulfite reductase
  • Sulfur transferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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