Cutin, a polyester composed mostly of oxygenated fatty acids, serves as the framework of the plant cuticle. The same types of cutin monomers occur across most plant lineages, although some evolutionary trends are evident. Additionally, cutins from some species have monomer profiles that are characteristic of the related polymer suberin. Compositional differences likely have profound structural consequences, but little is known about cutin's molecular organization and architectural heterogeneity. Its biological importance is suggested by the wide variety of associated mutants and gene-silencing lines that show a disruption of cuticular integrity, giving rise to numerous physiological and developmental abnormalities. Mapping and characterization of these mutants, along with suppression of gene paralogs through RNA interference, have revealed much of the biosynthetic pathway and several regulatory factors; however, the mechanisms of cutin polymerization and its interactions with other cuticle and cell wall components are only now beginning to be resolved.
Keywords: acyltransferase; cuticle; cutin synthase; monoacylglycerol; organogenesis; polyester.