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Trends Plant Sci. 2008 Jan;13(1):14-9. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

Highway or byway: the metabolic role of the GABA shunt in plants.

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Department Willmitzer, Max Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany.


Much of the recent work on the gamma-aminobutyrate (GABA) shunt in plants has concentrated on stress/pest-associated and signalling roles. However, fifty years after the structural elucidation of the pathway, aspects of its regulation and even of its biological significance remain largely obscure. Here, we assess the importance of GABA metabolism in plants, reviewing relevant biological circumstances and taking advantage of high-throughput data accessibility and computational approaches. We discuss the premise that GABA metabolism plays a major role in carbon and nitrogen primary metabolism. We further evaluate technological developments that will likely allow us to address the quantitative importance of this shunt within the biological processes to which it contributes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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