The ligand–receptor-based cell-to-cell communication system is one of the most important molecular bases for the establishment of complex multicellular organisms. Plants have evolved highly complex intercellular communication systems. Historical studies have identified several molecules, designated phytohormones, that function in these processes. Recent advances in molecular biological analyses have identified phytohormone receptors and signalling mediators, and have led to the discovery of numerous peptide-based signalling molecules. Subsequent analyses have revealed the involvement in and contribution of these peptides to multiple aspects of the plant life cycle, including development and environmental responses, similar to the functions of canonical phytohormones. On the basis of this knowledge, the view that these peptide hormones are pivotal regulators in plants is becoming increasingly accepted. Peptide hormones are transcribed from the genome and translated into peptides. However, these peptides generally undergo further post-translational modifications to enable them to exert their function. Peptide hormones are expressed in and secreted from specific cells or tissues. Apoplastic peptides are perceived by specialized receptors that are located at the surface of target cells. Peptide hormone–receptor complexes activate intracellular signalling through downstream molecules, including kinases and transcription factors, which then trigger cellular events. In this chapter we provide a comprehensive summary of the biological functions of peptide hormones, focusing on how they mature and the ways in which they modulate plant functions.
- disulfide bond formation
- mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)
- peptide hormone
- post-translational modification
- proteolytic processing
- transmembrane receptor kinase
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