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Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire et Moleculaire, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6)(Unite de Recherche Associee au CNRS 1180), 4 place Jussieu, Paris Cedex 05, 75252 France.


Lipid-transfer proteins (LTP) are basic, 9-kDa proteins present in high amounts (as much as 4% of the total soluble proteinss) in higher plants. LTPs can enhance the in vitro transfer of phospholipids between membranes and can bind acyl chains. On the basis of these properties, LTPs were thought to participate in membrane biogenesis and regulation of the intracellular fatty acid pools. However, the isolation of several cDNAs and genes revealed the presence of a signal peptide indicating that LTPs could enter the secretory pathway. They were found to be secreted and located in the cell wall. Thus, novel roles were suggested for plant LTPs: participation in cutin formation, embryogenesis, defense reactions against phytopathogens, symbiosis, and the adaptation of plants to various environmental conditions. The validity of these suggestions needs to be determined, in the hope that they will elucidate the role of this puzzling family of plant proteins.

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