Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, Vol.100, No.6, 593-599, 2005
Biosynthetic regulation of phytochelatins, heavy metal-binding peptides
Phytochelatins (PCs) are heavy metal-binding peptides that play important roles in the detoxification of toxic heavy metals and the regulation of intracellular concentrations of essential metals in eukaryotes, including higher plants, fungi, and microalgae. Recently, PC synthase genes in higher plants and fission yeast have been identified and characterized, enabling molecular biological studies to unravel the mechanisms underlying PC synthesis. Moreover, recent routine database searches have unexpectedly identified genes that are similar to plant PC synthase genes in the genomes of worms and some prokaryotes. In this review, we introduce these recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms for PC biosynthesis and functions in order to supply basic information about the unique and attractive peptides applicable to various fields.