, Volume 228, Issue 3, pp 367-381
Date: 02 Jul 2008

Polyamines: essential factors for growth and survival

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Abstract

Polyamines are low molecular weight, aliphatic polycations found in the cells of all living organisms. Due to their positive charges, polyamines bind to macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins. They are involved in diverse processes, including regulation of gene expression, translation, cell proliferation, modulation of cell signalling, and membrane stabilization. They also modulate the activities of certain sets of ion channels. Because of these multifaceted functions, the homeostasis of polyamines is crucial and is ensured through regulation of biosynthesis, catabolism, and transport. Through isolation of the genes involved in plant polyamine biosynthesis and loss-of-function experiments on the corresponding genes, their essentiality for growth is reconfirmed. Polyamines are also involved in stress responses and diseases in plants, indicating their importance for plant survival. This review summarizes the recent advances in polyamine research in the field of plant science compared with the knowledge obtained in microorganisms and animal systems.