2. Molecular Modes of Action of Defensive Secondary Metabolites

  1. Michael Wink Professor
  1. Michael Wink Professor2 and
  2. Oskar Schimmer1

Published Online: 23 FEB 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444318876.ch2

Annual Plant Reviews Volume 39: Functions and Biotechnology of Plant Secondary Metabolites, Second edition

Annual Plant Reviews Volume 39: Functions and Biotechnology of Plant Secondary Metabolites, Second edition

How to Cite

Wink, M. and Schimmer, O. (2010) Molecular Modes of Action of Defensive Secondary Metabolites, in Annual Plant Reviews Volume 39: Functions and Biotechnology of Plant Secondary Metabolites, Second edition (ed M. Wink), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444318876.ch2

Editor Information

  1. Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Div. Biology, Im Neuenheimer Feld 364, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Author Information

  1. 1

    Retired from University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Institute of Botany and Pharmaceutical Biology, Erlangen, Germany

  2. 2

    Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Div. Biology, Im Neuenheimer Feld 364, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 FEB 2010
  2. Published Print: 2 APR 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405185288

Online ISBN: 9781444318876

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Keywords:

  • defence;
  • attraction;
  • herbivores;
  • microbes;
  • molecular modes of action;
  • DNA alkylation;
  • DNA intercalation;
  • mutations;
  • cytotoxicity;
  • apoptosis;
  • molecular targets;
  • neuronal signalling;
  • alkaloids;
  • terpenoids;
  • cyanogenic glucosides;
  • phenolics

Summary

Secondary metabolites (SM) have been shaped by evolution for more than 500 million years. As a result, many of them have distinctive biochemical and pharmacological properties. The molecular modes of action of the main groups of SM are reviewed in this chapter. Details are given on interactions of SM with proteins that can induce conformational changes and thus a modification of their bioactivity. The fluidity and permeability of biomembranes constitute another important target, which is influenced by many lipophilic and amphiphilic SM. A number of SM can either alkylate or intercalate DNA, which can cause mutations and in consequence cancer or malformations. Many SM are cytotoxic because they interfere with biomembranes, proteins of the cytoskeleton or DNA; they often induce programmed cell death (apoptosis). A large number of SM, especially alkaloids modulate neuronal signal transduction by interfering with ion channels, ion pumps, neuroreceptors, choline esterase, monoamine oxidase and other enzymes related to signal transduction pathways. A typical feature of SM is their ability to modulate more than one molecular target; thus, additive and even synergistic activities can be expected.