Sucrose metabolism: regulatory mechanisms and pivotal roles in sugar sensing and plant development

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2004 Jun;7(3):235-46. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2004.03.014.


Sucrose cleavage is vital to multicellular plants, not only for the allocation of crucial carbon resources but also for the initiation of hexose-based sugar signals in importing structures. Only the invertase and reversible sucrose synthase reactions catalyze known paths of sucrose breakdown in vivo. The regulation of these reactions and its consequences has therefore become a central issue in plant carbon metabolism. Primary mechanisms for this regulation involve the capacity of invertases to alter sugar signals by producing glucose rather than UDPglucose, and thus also two-fold more hexoses than are produced by sucrose synthase. In addition, vacuolar sites of cleavage by invertases could allow temporal control via compartmentalization. In addition, members of the gene families encoding either invertases or sucrose synthases respond at transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels to diverse environmental signals, including endogenous changes that reflect their own action (e.g. hexoses and hexose-responsive hormone systems such as abscisic acid [ABA] signaling). At the enzyme level, sucrose synthases can be regulated by rapid changes in sub-cellular localization, phosphorylation, and carefully modulated protein turnover. In addition to transcriptional control, invertase action can also be regulated at the enzyme level by highly localized inhibitor proteins and by a system that has the potential to initiate and terminate invertase activity in vacuoles. The extent, path, and site of sucrose metabolism are thus highly responsive to both internal and external environmental signals and can, in turn, dramatically alter development and stress acclimation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Glucosyltransferases / physiology
  • Plant Development*
  • Plants / enzymology
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sucrose / metabolism*
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / metabolism
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / physiology


  • Sucrose
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • sucrose synthase
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase