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J Exp Bot. 2012 May;63(9):3379-90. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err311. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Metabolism control over growth: a case for trehalose-6-phosphate in plants.

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Molecular Plant Physiology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


How plants relate their requirements for energy with the reducing power necessary to fuel growth is not understood. The activated glucose forms and NADPH are key precursors in pathways yielding, respectively, energy and reducing power for anabolic metabolism. Moreover, they are substrates or allosteric regulators of trehalose-phosphate synthase (TPS1) in fungi and probably also in plants. TPS1 synthesizes the signalling metabolite trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P) and, therefore, has the potential to relate reducing power with energy metabolism to fuel growth. A working model is discussed where trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P) inhibition of SnRK1 is part of a growth-regulating loop in young and metabolically active heterotrophic plant tissues. SnRK1 is the Snf1 Related Kinase 1 and the plant homologue of the AMP-dependent protein kinase of animals, a central energy gauge. T6P accumulation in response to high sucrose levels in a cell inhibits SnRK1 activity, thus promoting anabolic processes and growth. When T6P levels drop due to low glucose-6-phosphate, uridine-diphosphoglucose, and altered NADPH or due to restricted TPS1 activity, active SnRK1 promotes catabolic processes required to respond to energy and carbon deprivation. The model explains why too little or too much T6P has been found to be growth inhibitory: Arabidopsis thaliana embryos and seedlings without TPS1 are growth arrested and Arabidopsis seedlings accumulating T6P on a trehalose medium are growth arrested. Finally, the insight gained with respect to the possible role of T6P metabolism, where it is known to alter developmental and environmental responses of plants, is discussed.

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