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Arabidopsis Book. 2010;8:e0140. doi: 10.1199/tab.0140. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Proline metabolism and its implications for plant-environment interaction.

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Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology, Academia Sinica, No. 128 Sec. 2 Academia Rd, Nankang Dist., Taipei, 11529, Taiwan.


Proline has long been known to accumulate in plants experiencing water limitation and this has driven studies of proline as a beneficial solute allowing plants to increase cellular osmolarity during water limitation. Proline metabolism also has roles in redox buffering and energy transfer and is involved in plant pathogen interaction and programmed cell death. Some of these unique roles of proline depend on the properties of proline itself, whereas others depend on the "proline cycle" of coordinated proline synthesis in the chloroplast and cytoplasm with proline catabolism in the mitochondria. The regulatory mechanisms controlling proline metabolism, intercellular and intracellular transport and connections of proline to other metabolic pathways are all important to the in vivo functions of proline metabolism. Connections of proline metabolism to the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and glutamate-glutamine metabolism are of particular interest. The N-acetyl glutamate pathway can also produce ornithine and, potentially, proline but its role and activity are unclear. Use of model systems such as Arabidopsis thaliana to better understand both these long studied and newly emerging functions of proline can help in the design of next-generation experiments testing whether proline metabolism is a promising metabolic engineering target for improving stress resistance of economically important plants.

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