Evidence has been provided that the plant uncoupling proteins (pUCP) play basic physiological roles similar to the other uncoupling protein subfamily members (mammalian UCP1,2,3,4 and BMCP) and are effective in the situations of slight uncoupling that leads to: (1) accelerated respiration and metabolic rates that are beneficial to plant growth and development; (2) decreased formation of reactive oxygen species in mitochondria; and, (3) mild thermogenesis, inevitably accompanying the previous two phenomena. Hypothetically, specific physiological roles of pUCP such as cut off of ATP synthesis could be manifested in connection with climacteric respiratory rise during fruit ripening, seed dormancy, and plant senescence. pUCP might also facilitate growth under low temperatures, e.g., during seed germination or in roots. The existence of these specific roles is suggested by the immunochemical and functional localization of pUCP in mitochondria of fruits, seeds and roots of various plant species.

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