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Mol Plant. 2010 Jan;3(1):54-65. doi: 10.1093/mp/ssp104. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

Recent progress in deciphering the biosynthesis of aspartate-derived amino acids in plants.

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Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA.


Plants are either directly or indirectly the source of most of the essential amino acids in animal diets. Four of these essential amino acids-methionine, threonine, isoleucine, and lysine-are all produced from aspartate via a well studied biosynthesis pathway. Given the nutritional interest in essential amino acids, the aspartate-derived amino acid pathway has been the subject of extensive research. Additionally, several pathway enzymes serve as targets for economically important herbicides, and some of the downstream products are biosynthetic precursors for other essential plant metabolites such as ethylene and S-adenosylmethionine. Recent and ongoing research on the aspartate-derived family of amino acids has identified new enzyme activities, regulatory mechanisms, and in vivo metabolic functions. Together, these discoveries will open up new possibilities for plant metabolic engineering.

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