The biochemistry and biology of extracellular plant lipid-transfer proteins (LTPs)

Protein Sci. 2008 Feb;17(2):191-8. doi: 10.1110/ps.073300108. Epub 2007 Dec 20.


Plant lipid-transfer proteins (LTPs) are abundant, small, lipid binding proteins that are capable of exchanging lipids between membranes in vitro. Despite their name, a role in intracellular lipid transport is considered unlikely, based on their extracellular localization. A number of other biological roles, including antimicrobial defense, signaling, and cell wall loosening, have been proposed, but conclusive evidence is generally lacking, and these functions are not well correlated with in vitro activity or structure. A survey of sequenced plant genomes suggests that the two biochemically characterized families of LTPs are phylogenetically restricted to seed plants and are present as substantial gene families. This review aims to summarize the current understanding of LTP biochemistry, as well as the evidence supporting the proposed in vivo roles of these proteins within the emerging post-genomic framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Plant / chemistry*
  • Antigens, Plant / genetics
  • Antigens, Plant / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, Plant
  • Models, Molecular
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / physiology*
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Seeds / metabolism


  • Antigens, Plant
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • lipid transfer proteins, plant