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Plant Signal Behav. 2009 Nov;4(11):1099-101. Epub 2009 Nov 18.

Can ornithine accumulation modulate abiotic stress tolerance in Arabidopsis?

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  • 1Group of Biotechnology of Pharmaceutical Plants, Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Division of Pharmacognosy-Pharmacology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.


The arginine biosynthetic pathway represents an area of plant biochemistry that has been poorly investigated. Recently, the first enzyme of the arginine pathway, encoded by the N-acetyl-L-glutamate synthase gene (SlNAGS1), was isolated and characterized in tomato, and was found to be structurally similar to other predicted NAGS. SlNAGS1 accumulation patterns suggest a possible role of this gene in hypoxia-induced responses. The 35S::SlNAGS1 Arabidopsis plants accumulated ornithine at high levels and exhibited increased tolerance to salt and drought stresses. Ornithine is the intermediate compound in the arginine biosynthesis where the pathway divaricates to the production of compounds, such as proline and polyamines that are known to serve osmoprotective functions. It is therefore likely that the elevated ornithine accumulation in the SlNAGS1-overexpressing plants be coupled with the production of a pool of osmoprotectants that end up to the improved stress tolerance. The possible implications of ornithine accumulation are discussed.

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