Glycosides of hydroxyproline (Hyp) in the plant cell wall matrix were discovered by Lamport and co-workers in the 1960s. Since then, much has been learned about these Hyp-rich glycoproteins. The intent of this review was to compare and contrast some less common structural motifs, in nontraditional roles, to uncover themes. Arabinosylation of short-peptide plant hormones is essential for growth, cell differentiation and defense. In a very recent development, prolyl hydroxylase and arabinosyltransferase activity has been shown to have a direct impact on the growth of root hairs in Arabidopsis thaliana. Pollen allergens of mugwort and ragweed contain proline-rich domains that are hydroxylated and glycosylated and play a structural role. In the case of mugwort, this domain also presents a significant immunogenic epitope. Major crops, including tobacco and maize, have been used to express and produce recombinant proteins of mammalian origin. The risks of plant-imposed glycosylation are discussed. In unicellular eukaryotes, Skp1 (a subunit of the E3SCF ubiquitin ligase complex) harbors a key Hyp residue that is modified by a linear pentasaccharide. These modifications may be involved in sensing oxygen levels. A few studies have probed the impact of glycosylation on the structure of Hyp-containing peptides. These have necessarily looked at small, synthetic molecules, since natural peptides and proteins are often isolable in only minuscule amounts and/or are heterogeneous in nature. The characterization of native structural motifs, together with the determination of glycopeptide conformation and properties, holds the key to rationalizing nature's architectural design.
- Peptide conformation
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