Germin and germin-like proteins: evolution, structure, and function
Dunwell, J., Gibbings, J. G., Mahmood, T. and Saqlan Naqvi, S.M. (2008) Germin and germin-like proteins: evolution, structure, and function. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 27 (5). pp. 342-375. ISSN 0735-2689
To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/07352680802333938
Germin and germin-like proteins (GLPs) are encoded by a family of genes found in all plants. They are part of the cupin superfamily of biochemically diverse proteins, a superfamily that has a conserved tertiary structure, though with limited similarity in primary sequence. The subgroups of GLPs have different enzyme functions that include the two hydrogen peroxide-generating enzymes, oxalate oxidase (OxO) and superoxide dismutase. This review summarizes the sequence and structural details of GLPs and also discusses their evolutionary progression, particularly their amplification in gene number during the evolution of the land plants. In terms of function, the GLPs are known to be differentially expressed during specific periods of plant growth and development, a pattern of evolutionary subfunctionalization. They are also implicated in the response of plants to biotic (viruses, bacteria, mycorrhizae, fungi, insects, nematodes, and parasitic plants) and abiotic (salt, heat/cold, drought, nutrient, and metal) stress. Most detailed data come from studies of fungal pathogenesis in cereals. This involvement with the protection of plants from environmental stress of various types has led to numerous plant breeding studies that have found links between GLPs and QTLs for disease and stress resistance. In addition the OxO enzyme has considerable commercial significance, based principally on its use in the medical diagnosis of oxalate concentration in plasma and urine. Finally, this review provides information on the nutritional importance of these proteins in the human diet, as several members are known to be allergenic, a feature related to their thermal stability and evolutionary connection to the seed storage proteins, also members of the cupin superfamily.
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