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Mol Plant. 2013 Mar;6(2):261-74. doi: 10.1093/mp/sss120. Epub 2012 Oct 25.

How do sugars regulate plant growth and development? New insight into the role of trehalose-6-phosphate.

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Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.


Plant growth and development are tightly controlled in response to environmental conditions that influence the availability of photosynthetic carbon in the form of sucrose. Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), the precursor of trehalose in the biosynthetic pathway, is an important signaling metabolite that is involved in the regulation of plant growth and development in response to carbon availability. In addition to the plant's own pathway for trehalose synthesis, formation of T6P or trehalose by pathogens can result in the reprogramming of plant metabolism and development. Developmental processes that are regulated by T6P range from embryo development to leaf senescence. Some of these processes are regulated in interaction with phytohormones, such as auxin. A key interacting factor of T6P signaling in response to the environment is the protein kinase sucrose non-fermenting related kinase-1 (SnRK1), whose catalytic activity is inhibited by T6P. SnRK1 is most likely involved in the adjustment of metabolism and growth in response to starvation. The transcription factor bZIP11 has recently been identified as a new player in the T6P/SnRK1 regulatory pathway. By inhibiting SnRK1, T6P promotes biosynthetic reactions. This regulation has important consequences for crop production, for example, in the developing wheat grain and during the growth of potato tubers.

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