Serine protease inhibitors (PIs) are a large and complex group of plant proteins. Members of the Potato type I (Pin1) and II (Pin2) proteinase inhibitor families are among the first and most extensively characterized plant PIs. Many insects and phytopathogenic microorganisms use intracellular and extracellular serine proteases playing important roles in pathogenesis. Plants, however, are able to fight these pathogens through the activation of an intricate defence system that leads to the accumulation of various PIs, including Pin1 and Pin2. Several transgenic plants over-expressing members of the Pin1 and Pin2 families have been obtained in the last twenty years and their enhanced defensive capabilities demonstrated against insects, fungi and bacteria. Furthermore, plants genetically engineered with Pin1 and Pin2 showed altered regulation of different physiological processes (e.g., dehydratation response, programmed cell death, growth, trichome density and branching), supporting an endogenous role in various plant species in addition to the well established defensive one. This review summarizes the current knowledge about Pin1 and Pin2 structure, the role of these proteins in plant defence and physiology, and their potential exploitation in biotechnology.
Keywords: Antipathogenic, antipest, defence, endogenous role, Pin1, Pin, serine protease inhibitors, Proteinase inhibitors, host resistance, plant physiology, phytopathogenic microorganisms, potential exploitation, biotechnology
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