Protein turnover in plant biology

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The protein content of plant cells is constantly being updated. This process is driven by the opposing actions of protein degradation, which defines the half-life of each polypeptide, and protein synthesis. Our understanding of the processes that regulate protein synthesis and degradation in plants has advanced significantly over the past decade. Post-transcriptional modifications that influence features of the mRNA populations, such as poly(A) tail length and secondary structure, contribute to the regulation of protein synthesis. Post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, ubiquitination and non-enzymatic processes such as nitrosylation and carbonylation, govern the rate of degradation. Regulators such as the plant TOR kinase, and effectors such as the E3 ligases, allow plants to balance protein synthesis and degradation under developmental and environmental change. Establishing an integrated understanding of the processes that underpin changes in protein abundance under various physiological and developmental scenarios will accelerate our ability to model and rationally engineer plants.

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Figure 1: Plant protein synthesis and degradation machinery and its regulation.
Figure 2: Proteome development and steady-states during the life-cycle of plants.
Figure 3: Combining quantitative protein synthesis and degradation measurements with physiological studies.


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A.H.M. is supported by an ARC Future Fellowship (FT110100242) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (CE140100008).

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C.J.N. and A.H.M. co-wrote and edited the review and generated the figures.

Correspondence to A. Harvey Millar.

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