Metabolons in plant primary and secondary metabolism

  • Toshihiro ObataEmail author


Metabolons are multi-enzyme protein complexes composed of enzymes catalyzing sequential reactions in a metabolic pathway. Metabolons mediate substrate channeling between the enzyme catalytic cores to enhance the pathway reactions, to achieve containment of reactive intermediates, and to prevent access of competing enzymes to the intermediates. These provide unique advantages in metabolic regulation. The discovery of plant metabolons has been accelerated by the recent technical developments and a considerable number of metabolons involved in both primary and secondary metabolism have been indicated in the last decade. These findings related with plant metabolons are comprehensively reviewed in this review, indicating metabolome-wide engagement of metabolons. However, there are still unexplored frontiers remaining for further discovery of metabolons in plant metabolism. Pathways with high potential of novel metabolon and technical issues to be solved for the future discovery will also be discussed.


Metabolon Metabolite channeling Substrate channeling Multi-enzyme complex Protein–protein interaction 



Tricarboxylic acid






Dihydroxyacetone phosphate


Voltage dependent anion channel


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase


Affinity purification mass spectrometry


Malate dehydrogenase


Isocitrate dehydrogenase


Succinate dehydrogenase


Citrate synthase


Starch branching enzyme


Starch phosphorylase


Starch synthase


Starch debranching enzyme


Disproportionating enzyme


Indole-3-acetic acid


Endoplasmic reticulum


Styrene maleic acid lipid particle


Fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy


Fluorescent resonance energy transfer


Phenylalanine ammonia lyase


Cinnamate 4-hydroxylase


Chalcone synthase


Chalcone isomerase


Flavanone 3-hydroxylase


Dihydroflavonol 4-reductase


Anthocyanidin synthase


Flavonol synthase


Flavonoid 3′-hydroxylase


Chalcone 4′-glucosyltransferase


Flavone synthase


Leucoanthocyanidin reductase


Isoflavone synthase


Arogenate dehydratase


Chalcone reductase


Hydroxycinnamoyl transferase


p-Coumaroyl shikimate 3′-hydroxylase


Caffeoyl CoA O-methyltransferase


Caffeic acid O-methyltransferase


Ferulate 5-hydroxylase


Cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase


Cinnamoyl CoA reductase


4-Coumaroyl-CoA ligase


Membrane steroid-binding protein




Chalcone isomerase like


Geranylgeranyl diphosphate


Geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase


Phytoene synthase


Bimolecular fluorescent complementation


Acetyl-CoA synthetase


Polyketide synthase


Tetraketide α-pyrone reductase


Oxidative pentose phosphate pathway



This study was supported by National Science Foundation CAREER Award (Award # 1845451) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Faculty Startup Grant to T.O.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Center for Plant Science InnovationUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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