The nonspecific lipid transfer proteins (LTPs) are small compact proteins folded around a tunnel-like hydrophobic cavity, making them suitable for lipid binding and transport. LTPs are encoded by large gene families in all land plants, but they have not been identified in algae or any other organisms. Thus, LTPs are considered key proteins for plant survival on and colonization of land. LTPs are abundantly expressed in most plant tissues, both above and below ground. They are usually localized to extracellular spaces outside the plasma membrane. Although the in vivo functions of LTPs remain unclear, accumulating evidence suggests a role for LTPs in the transfer and deposition of monomers required for assembly of the waterproof lipid barriers, such as cutin and cuticular wax, suberin, and sporopollenin, formed on many plant surfaces. Some LTPs may be involved in other processes, such as signaling during pathogen attacks. Here, we present the current status of LTP research with a focus on the role of these proteins in lipid barrier deposition and cell expansion. We suggest that LTPs facilitate extracellular transfer of barrier materials and adhesion between barriers and extracellular materials. A growing body of research may uncover the true role of LTPs in plants.
- Cell wall