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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Jun;9(3):288-96. Epub 2006 Apr 4.

Variations on a theme: synthesis and modification of plant benzoic acids.

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University of California, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, 221 Koshland Hall, Berkeley, California 94720-3102, USA.


Plant benzoic acids (BAs) are critical regulators of a plant's interaction with its environment. In addition, innumerable plant-derived pharmacological agents contain benzoyl moieties. Despite the prevalence and import of plant BAs, their biosynthetic pathways are not well-defined. Mounting evidence suggests that BAs are synthesized both directly from shikimate/chorismate and from phenylalanine in plants; however, few genes in these pathways have been identified. Exciting progress has been made in elucidating genes that modify BAs via methylation, glucosylation, or activation with Coenzyme A. As these modifications alter the stability, solubility, and activity of the BAs, they impact the functional roles of these molecules. The combination of multiple BA biosynthetic routes with a variety of chemical modifications probably facilitates precise temporal and spatial control over active forms, as well as the channeling of intermediates to particular benzoate products.

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