Transcriptional regulation of secondary metabolite biosynthesis in plants

Barunava Patra, Craig Schluttenhofer, Yongmei Wu, Sitakanta Pattanaik, Ling Yuan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


Plants produce thousands of secondary metabolites (a.k.a. specialized metabolites) of diverse chemical nature. These compounds play important roles in protecting plants under adverse conditions. Many secondary metabolites are valued for their pharmaceutical properties. Because of their beneficial effects to health, biosynthesis of secondary metabolites has been a prime focus of research. Many transcription factors have been characterized for their roles in regulating biosynthetic pathways at the transcriptional level. The emerging picture of transcriptional regulation of secondary metabolite biosynthesis suggests that the expression of activators and repressors, in response to phytohormones and different environmental signals, forms a dynamic regulatory network that fine-tune the timing, amplitude and tissue specific expression of pathway genes and the subsequent accumulation of these compounds. Recent research has revealed that some metabolic pathways are also controlled by posttranscriptional and posttranslational mechanisms. This review will use recent developments in the biosynthesis of flavonoids, alkaloids and terpenoids to highlight the complexity of transcriptional regulation of secondary metabolite biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1247
Number of pages12
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
C. S. is supported by a pre-doctoral scholarship from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky .


  • Flavonoids
  • Terpenes
  • Terpenoid indole alkaloids
  • Transcriptional regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Transcriptional regulation of secondary metabolite biosynthesis in plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this