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Mobilization and Utilization of Cyanogenic Glycosides: The Linustatin Pathway

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  • Metabolism And Enzymology


In the seeds of Hevea brasiliensis, the cyanogenic monoglucoside linamarin (2-β-d-glucopyranosyloxy-2-methylpropionitrile) is accumulated in the endosperm. After onset of germination, the cyanogenic diglucoside linustatin (2-[6-β-d-glucosyl-β-d-glucopyranosyloxy]-2- methylpropionitrile) is formed and exuded from the endosperm of Hevea seedlings. At the same time the content of cyanogenic monoglucosides decreases. The linustatin-splitting diglucosidase and the β-cyanoalanine synthase that assimilates HCN, exhibit their highest activities in the young seedling at this time. Based on these observations the following pathway for the in vivo mobilization and metabolism of cyanogenic glucosides is proposed: storage of monoglucosides (in the endosperm)—glucosylation—transport of the diglucoside (out of the endosperm into the seedling)—cleavage by diglucosidase—reassimilation of HCN to noncyanogenic compounds. The presence of this pathway demonstrates that cyanogenic glucosides, typical secondary plant products serve in the metabolism of developing plants as N-storage compounds and do not exclusively exhibit protective functions due to their repellent effect.

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