Cuticular matrices covering aerial plant organs or delimiting compartments in these organs are composed of an insoluble hydrophobic polymer of high molecular mass, i.e., cutin, that encompass some cell wall polysaccharides and is filled by waxes. Cutin is a polyester of hydroxy and-or epoxy fatty acids including a low amount of glycerol. Screening of Arabidopsis
and more recently of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum
) mutants allowed the delineation of the metabolic pathway involved in the formation of cutin monomers, as well as their translocation in the apoplast. Furthermore, these studies identified an extracellular enzyme involved in the polymerization of these monomers, i.e., cutin synthase 1 (CUS1), an acyl transferase of the GDSL lipase protein family. By comparing the structure of tomato fruit cutins from wild type and down-regulated CUS1 mutants, as well as with the CUS1-catalyzed formation of oligomers in vitro, hypothetical models can be elaborated on the polymerization of cutins. The polymorphism of the GDSL-lipase family raises a number of questions concerning the function of the different isoforms in relation with the formation of a composite material, the cuticle, containing entangled hydrophilic and hydrophobic polymers, i.e., polysaccharides and cutin, and plasticizers, i.e., waxes.
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