Special Viewpoints

Keeping the Leaves Green Above Us

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Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1515-1516
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104352

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The plant immune system relies to a great extent on the highly regulated expression of hundreds of defense genes encoding antimicrobial proteins, such as defensins, and antiherbivore proteins, such as lectins. The expression of many of these genes is controlled by a family of mediators known as jasmonates; these cyclic oxygenated fatty acid derivatives are reminiscent of prostaglandins. The roles of jasmonates also extend to the control of reproductive development. How are these complex events regulated? Nearly 20 members of the jasmonate family have been characterized. Some, like jasmonic acid, exist in unmodified forms, whereas others are conjugated to other lipids or to hydrophobic amino acids. Why do so many chemically different forms of these mediators exist, and do individual jasmonates have unique signaling properties or are they made to facilitate transport within and between cells? Key features of the jasmonate signal pathway have been identified and include the specific activation of E3-type ubiquitin ligases thought to target as-yet-undescribed transcriptional repressors for modification or destruction. Several classes of transcription factor are known to function in the jasmonate pathway, and, in some cases, these proteins provide nodes that integrate this network with other important defensive and developmental pathways. Progress in jasmonate research is now rapid, but large gaps in our knowledge exist. Aimed to keep pace with progress, the ensemble of jasmonate Connections Maps at the Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment describe (i) the canonical signaling pathway, (ii) the Arabidopsis signaling pathway, and (iii) the biogenesis and structures of the jasmonates themselves.

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