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Plant Cell Environ. 2013 Dec;36(12):2085-103. doi: 10.1111/pce.12122. Epub 2013 May 17.

New insights into the regulation of plant immunity by amino acid metabolic pathways.

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Department of Biology, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Besides defence pathways regulated by classical stress hormones, distinct amino acid metabolic pathways constitute integral parts of the plant immune system. Mutations in several genes involved in Asp-derived amino acid biosynthetic pathways can have profound impact on plant resistance to specific pathogen types. For instance, amino acid imbalances associated with homoserine or threonine accumulation elevate plant immunity to oomycete pathogens but not to pathogenic fungi or bacteria. The catabolism of Lys produces the immune signal pipecolic acid (Pip), a cyclic, non-protein amino acid. Pip amplifies plant defence responses and acts as a critical regulator of plant systemic acquired resistance, defence priming and local resistance to bacterial pathogens. Asp-derived pyridine nucleotides influence both pre- and post-invasion immunity, and the catabolism of branched chain amino acids appears to affect plant resistance to distinct pathogen classes by modulating crosstalk of salicylic acid- and jasmonic acid-regulated defence pathways. It also emerges that, besides polyamine oxidation and NADPH oxidase, Pro metabolism is involved in the oxidative burst and the hypersensitive response associated with avirulent pathogen recognition. Moreover, the acylation of amino acids can control plant resistance to pathogens and pests by the formation of protective plant metabolites or by the modulation of plant hormone activity.


amino acid acylation; aspartate pathway; lysine catabolism; oxidative burst; pipecolic acid; plant defence; polyamines; proline; pyridine nucleotides; systemic acquired resistance

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