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essay ans study questions - Plant Physiology Online...

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Plant Physiology Online: Exploring Chemical Space in the Plant World A Companion to Plant Physiology, Fourth Edition by Lincoln Taiz and Eduardo Zeiger Topics Essays Study Questions Readings Help Select Chapter: Search HOME :: CHAPTER 1 :: Essay 1.1 PREVIOUS :: NEXT Essay 1.1 Exploring Chemical Space in the Plant World Natasha Raikhel, Plant Cell Biology, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA; Glenn R. Hicks, Exelixis, South San Francisco, CA August, 2006 Bioactive chemicals have a long and important history in helping plant scientists to unravel physiological processes. Such chemicals include inhibitors of essential plant hormone biosynthesis, transport and action, disruptors of cytoskeleton, and inhibitors of important intracellular signaling proteins such as GDP–GTP exchange proteins, among many others. Some of these chemicals occur naturally in plants, whereas others are synthetic. With the advent of advanced methods of molecular biology and genetics, the use of small molecules to uncover basic processes in plant biology received little attention in the past few decades. However, as we enter the twenty-first century, interest in bioactive chemicals as experimental tools to understand basic biological processes is reawakening (Shogren-Knaak et al. 2001; Blackwell and Zhao 2003). What has motivated biologists to revisit small molecules? While perhaps ten million compounds are documented in the chemical literature, the potential chemical diversity of organic compounds that have a molecular mass less than 500 daltons (similar to many natural compounds) may exceed 10 60 (Dobson 2004). This presents an enormous opportunity to use diverse chemicals to probe the biology of living systems. Several important advances have allowed scientists to exploit this vast chemical diversity (also referred to as "chemical space") and rapidly discover novel bioactive chemicals. The development of combinatorial and automated techniques for synthesizing chemical structures has significantly enhanced the productivity of chemists to the point that chemical libraries containing thousands—or even millions—of potentially bioactive compounds can be synthesized (Smukste and Stockwell 2005). These advances permit the identification of chemicals that disrupt specific processes or the functions of particular proteins. Once these bioactive chemicals are identified, we can use powerful genetic screens to identify genes within the affected pathways (Blackwell and Zhao 2003). This scientific approach is referred to as "chemical genomics" (Figure 1). We are developing chemical genomics approaches to understand how the endomembrane system contributes to signal transduction and development.
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Plant Physiology Online: Exploring Chemical Space in the Plant World Figure 1 The use of chemical genomics to uncover new pathways. (a) In a screen for bioactive chemicals,
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