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Trends Plant Sci. 2001 Nov;6(11):510-3.

An unexpected plethora of trehalose biosynthesis genes in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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  • 1Vlaams Interuniversitair Instituut voor Biotechnologie-VIB, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee, Flanders, Belgium.


Trehalose accumulation has been documented in many organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, where it serves a storage and stress-protection role. Although conspicuously absent in most plants, trehalose biosynthesis genes were discovered recently in higher plants. We have uncovered a family of 11 TPS genes in Arabidopsis thaliana, one of which encodes a trehalose-6-phosphate (Tre6P) synthase, and a subfamily of which might encode the still elusive Tre6P phosphatases. A regulatory role in carbon metabolism is likely but might not be restricted to the TPS control of hexokinase activity as documented for yeast. Incompatibility between high trehalose levels and chaperone-assisted protein folding might be a reason why plants have evolved to accumulate some alternative stress-protection compounds to trehalose.

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