Building lipid barriers: biosynthesis of cutin and suberin

Trends Plant Sci. 2008 May;13(5):236-46. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2008.03.003. Epub 2008 Apr 24.


Cutin and suberin are the polymer matrices for lipophilic cell wall barriers. These barriers control the fluxes of gases, water and solutes, and also play roles in protecting plants from biotic and abiotic stresses and in controlling plant morphology. Although they are ubiquitous, cutin and suberin are the least understood of the major plant extracellular polymers. The use of forward and reverse genetic approaches in Arabidopsis has led to the identification of oxidoreductase and acyltransferase genes involved in the biosynthesis of these polymers. However, major questions about the underlying polymer structure, biochemistry, and intracellular versus extracellular assembly remain to be resolved. The analysis of plant lines with modified cutins and suberins has begun to reveal the inter-relationships between the composition and function of these polymers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Biosynthetic Pathways / genetics
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Lipids / biosynthesis*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Membrane Lipids / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Lipids / chemistry
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Plants / enzymology
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Polymers / metabolism


  • Lipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Polymers
  • cutin
  • suberin
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Acyltransferases