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Prog Lipid Res. 2003 May;42(3):163-75.

The role of sterols in plant growth and development.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes du CNRS, Département Isoprénoïdes, Institut de Botanique, 28 rue Goethe, F-67083, Strasbourg, France.


Sterols found in all eukaryotic organisms are membrane components which regulate the fluidity and the permeability of phospholipid bilayers. Certain sterols in minute amounts, such as campesterol in Arabidopsis thaliana, are precursors of oxidized steroids acting as growth hormones collectively named brassinosteroids. The crucial importance of brassinosteroids upon growth and development has been established through the study of a set of dwarf mutants affected in brassinosteroid synthesis or perception. Some of these dwarfs are, in fact, deficient in the final steps of sterol biosynthesis and their developmental phenotypes are primarily caused by a depletion in the sterol precursor for brassinosteroids. Recently, the characterization of genes encoding sterol biosynthetic enzymes and the isolation of novel plant lines affected in the expression of those genes, either by insertional or classical mutagenesis, overexpression or cosuppression, have shed new light on the involvement of sterols in biological processes such as embryonic development, cell and plant growth, and fertility, which will be presented and discussed in this review article.

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