Differential impact of some metal(loid)s on oxidative stress, antioxidant system, sulfur compounds, and protein profile of Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.)

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Levels of arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), and copper (Cu) are increasing in the soils worldwide. Such contaminants cause toxicity in the plant systems which adversely affects growth and productivity. The objective of the present investigation was to elucidate individual and combined effects of As, Cr, and Cu (100 μM each) stress in metal hyper-accumulator plant Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L.), exposed for a week. The highest accumulation was in the roots and in decreasing order viz. Cu > As > Cr. The magnitude of oxidative stress was maximal in combined stress, followed by As, Cr, and then Cu stress. Glutathione in conjunction with glutathione reductase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione S-transferase increased in all set of stress treatments, notably when exposed to Cr alone. In addition, the level of sulfur-rich compounds like cysteine, phytochelatins, and non-protein thiols increased under each stress indicating efficient coupling of the enzyme system and sulfur-containing compounds during stress conditions. The highest tolerance or growth index of plants was recorded for Cu. Protein profiling of leaf tissues showed modulation of protein patterns in each stress. Mediator of RNA polymerase II transcription subunit 1 isoform X1, RuBisCO (large subunit), and ribosomal protein S3 proteins were more abundant under Cr and Cu stress. Zinc finger A20/AN1 domain-containing stress-associated protein 5-like protein was more abundant under Cu stress. HSP (15.7 kDa) and autophagy protein 5-like were in higher abundance under As and combined stress. Our results suggest that Indian mustard has a differential mode of defense against a particular stressor at the level of protein expression profile.