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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Jun;9(3):297-304. Epub 2006 Apr 4.

Terpene synthases and the regulation, diversity and biological roles of terpene metabolism.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Fralin Biotechnology Center, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


Terpene synthases are the primary enzymes in the formation of low-molecular-weight terpene metabolites. Rapid progress in the biochemical and molecular analysis of terpene synthases has allowed significant investigations of their evolution, structural and mechanistic properties, and regulation. The organization of terpene synthases in large gene families, their characteristic ability to form multiple products, and their spatial and temporal regulation during development and in response to biotic and abiotic factors contribute to the time-variable formation of a diverse group of terpene metabolites. The structural diversity and complexity of terpenes generates an enormous potential for mediating plant-environment interactions. Engineering the activities of terpene synthases provides opportunities for detailed functional evaluations of terpene metabolites in planta.

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