1932

Abstract

The structure of the familiar antioxidant -ascorbic acid (vitamin C) was described in 1933 yet remarkably, its biosynthesis in plants remained elusive until only recently. It became clear from radioisotopic labeling studies in the 1950s that plant ascorbic acid biosynthesis does not proceed in toto via a route similar to that in mammals. The description in 1996 of an mutant deficient in ascorbic acid prompted renewed research effort in this area, and subsequently in 1998 a new pathway was discovered that is backed by strong biochemical and molecular genetic evidence. This pathway proceeds through the intermediates GDP--mannose, -galactose, and -galactono-1,4-lactone. Much research has focused on the properties of the terminal enzyme responsible for conversion of the aldonolactone to ascorbate, and on related enzymes in both mammals and fungi. Two of the plant biosynthetic genes have been studied at the molecular level and additional ascorbate-deficient mutants may hold the key to other proteins involved in plant ascorbate metabolism. An analysis of the biosynthesis of ascorbate and its analogues in algae and fungi as well as the study of alternative proposed pathways should broaden our understanding of ascorbate metabolism in plants. With a biosynthetic pathway in hand, research on areas such as the control of ascorbate biosynthesis and the physiological roles of ascorbate should progress rapidly.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.arplant.52.1.437
2001-06-01
2024-06-13
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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