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CHILLING SENSITIVITY IN PLANTS AND CYANOBACTERIA: The Crucial Contribution of Membrane Lipids.

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1
National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, 444 Japan.

Abstract

The contribution of membrane lipids, particularly the level of unsaturation of fatty acids, to chilling sensitivity of plants has been intensively discussed for many years. We have demonstrated that the chilling sensitivity can be manipulated by modulating levels of unsaturation of fatty acids of membrane lipids by the action of acyl-lipid desaturases and glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase. This review covers recent studies on genetic manipulation of these enzymes in transgenic tobacco and cyanobacteria with special emphasis on the crucial importance of the unsaturation of membrane lipids in protecting the photosynthetic machinery from photoinhibition under cold conditions. Furthermore, we review the molecular mechanism of temperature-induced desaturation of fatty acids and introduce our hypothesis that changes in the membrane fluidity is the initial event of the expression of desaturase genes.

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