Sensing trehalose biosynthesis in plants

Authors

  • Oscar Goddijn,

    1. Zeneca-Mogen, Einsteinweg 97, 2333 CB, Leiden, The Netherlands, and, Utrecht University, Department of Botanical Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands
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  • Sjef Smeekens

    1. Zeneca-Mogen, Einsteinweg 97, 2333 CB, Leiden, The Netherlands, and, Utrecht University, Department of Botanical Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Summary

A most unexpected finding in research on plant carbohydrate metabolism is the recent discovery that angiosperms encode genes whose products are involved in trehalose metabolism. The presence and functionality of such genes has been elegantly shown by expressing Arabidopsis-derived trehalose phosphate synthase and trehalose phosphate phosphatase genes in yeast mutants lacking these enzymatic activities. Homologue sequences have now been cloned from a number of different plant species suggesting that the capacity to synthesise trehalose is ubiquitous in angiosperms. Except for Myrothamnus flabellifolius, trehalose biosynthesis has never been observed in tissues of higher plants, probably due to the presence of high levels of trehalase activity. The function of trehalose metabolism in plants is still a mystery. One of the postulated functions of trehalose metabolism in yeast is in the control of glucose repression and a similar function in sugar sensing can be proposed for plants as well.

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