Insights into Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) Proteins in Plants: From Structure to the Functions


Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins, a group of hydrophilic proteins, have been linked to survival in plants and animals in periods of stress, putatively through safeguarding enzymatic function and prevention of aggregation in times of dehydration/heat. Yet despite decades of effort, the molecular-level mechanisms defining this protective function remain unknown. In this paper, we summarize and review research discoveries of the classification of the LEA protein groups based on their amino acid sequence similarity and on the presence of distinctive conserved motifs. Moreover, we focus on high correlation between their accumulation and water deficit, reinforcing their functional relevance under abiotic stresses. We also discuss the biochemical properties of LEA proteins arising from their hydrophilic nature and by amino acid composition. Although significant similarities have not been found between the members of the different groups, a unifying and outstanding feature of most of them is their high hydrophilicity and high content of glycine. Therefore, we have highlighted the biotechnological applications of LEA genes, and the effects of over-expressing LEA genes from all LEA groups from different species of origin into different plant hosts. Apart from agronomical purposes, LEA proteins could be useful for other biotechnological applications in relation to their capacity to prevent aggregation of proteins.

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Amara, I. , Zaidi, I. , Masmoudi, K. , Ludevid, M. , Pagès, M. , Goday, A. and Brini, F. (2014) Insights into Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) Proteins in Plants: From Structure to the Functions. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 5, 3440-3455. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2014.522360.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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