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1.  The isolation and mapping of a novel hydroxycinnamoyltransferase in the globe artichoke chlorogenic acid pathway 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:30.
The leaves of globe artichoke and cultivated cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L.) have significant pharmaceutical properties, which mainly result from their high content of polyphenolic compounds such as monocaffeoylquinic and dicaffeoylquinic acid (DCQ), and a range of flavonoid compounds.
Hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HQT) encoding genes have been isolated from both globe artichoke and cultivated cardoon (GenBank accessions DQ915589 and DQ915590, respectively) using CODEHOP and PCR-RACE. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that their sequences belong to one of the major acyltransferase groups (anthranilate N-hydroxycinnamoyl/benzoyltransferase). The heterologous expression of globe artichoke HQT in E. coli showed that this enzyme can catalyze the esterification of quinic acid with caffeoyl-CoA or p-coumaroyl-CoA to generate, respectively, chlorogenic acid (CGA) and p-coumaroyl quinate. Real time PCR experiments demonstrated an increase in the expression level of HQT in UV-C treated leaves, and established a correlation between the synthesis of phenolic acids and protection against damage due to abiotic stress. The HQT gene, together with a gene encoding hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HCT) previously isolated from globe artichoke, have been incorporated within the developing globe artichoke linkage maps.
A novel acyltransferase involved in the biosynthesis of CGA in globe artichoke has been isolated, characterized and mapped. This is a good basis for our effort to understand the genetic basis of phenylpropanoid (PP) biosynthesis in C. cardunculus.
PMCID: PMC2664813  PMID: 19292932
2.  Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of a hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HCT) from Coffea canephora involved in chlorogenic acid biosynthesis 
A hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase involved in chlorogenic acid biosynthesis in C. canephora was crystallized using the vapour-diffusion method. A diffraction data set was collected to 3.0 Å resolution on the microfocus beamline (ID23-2) at ESRF and a structure solution was obtained using molecular replacement.
Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are a group of soluble phenolic compounds that are produced by a variety of plants, including Coffea canephora (robusta coffee). The last step in CGA biosynthesis is generally catalysed by a specific hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HQT), but it can also be catalysed by the more widely distributed hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HCT). Here, the cloning and overexpression of HCT from C. canephora in Escherichia coli as well as its purification and crystallization are presented. Crystals were obtained by the sitting-drop technique at 293 K and X-ray diffraction data were collected on the microfocus beamline ID23-2 at the ESRF. The HCT crystals diffracted to better than 3.0 Å resolution, belonged to space group P42212 with unit-cell parameters a = b = 116.1, c = 158.9 Å and contained two molecules in the asymmetric unit. The structure was solved by molecular replacement and is currently under refinement. Such structural data are needed to decipher the molecular basis of the substrate specifities of this key enzyme, which belongs to the large plant acyl-CoA-dependent BAHD acyltransferase superfamily.
PMCID: PMC3388932  PMID: 22750875
Coffea canephora; phenylpropanoid-biosynthesis pathway; chlorogenic acids; plant acyl-CoA-dependent acyltransferase superfamily; hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase; molecular replacement
3.  Population structure of Cynara cardunculus complex and the origin of the conspecific crops artichoke and cardoon 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(5):855-865.
Background and Aims
Globe artichoke and leafy cardoon, two crops within the same species Cynara cardunculus, are traditionally cultivated in the Mediterranean region and play a significant role in the agricultural economy of this area. The two cultigens have different reproductive systems: artichoke is generally vegetatively propagated, while leafy cardoon is seed propagated. The domestication events underlying the origin of both artichoke and cultivated cardoon from their wild relative and the area of occurrence are not yet fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate population structure in wild cardoon, globe artichoke and leafy cardoon material and infer domestication events.
Thirty-five microsatellite (simple sequence repeat) markers, distributed in the C. cardunculus genome, and a large geographical and numerical sampling in southern Europe and North Africa were used to assess population structure and diversity.
Key Results
The results suggest the presence of two distinct domestication events for artichoke and leafy cardoon, and also suggest a new possible scenario, with western wild cardoon having originated from cultivated cardoon escaped from cultivation. Evidence was found for a demographic bottleneck in the past history of globe artichoke.
The results shed new light on the relationships between the three taxa of C. cardunculus and highlight relevant aspects on the evolution of domestication of two crops with a different reproductive system within the same species. It is proposed that the probable centre of origin of artichoke is located in southern Italy, probably Sicily.
PMCID: PMC3747803  PMID: 23877076
Cynara cardunculus; SSR markers; population structure; multiple domestication events; clonal propagation; bottleneck; reproductive system
4.  Production of hydroxycinnamoyl-shikimates and chlorogenic acid in Escherichia coli: production of hydroxycinnamic acid conjugates 
Hydroxycinnamates (HCs) are mainly produced in plants. Caffeic acid (CA), p-coumaric acid (PA), ferulic acid (FA) and sinapic acid (SA) are members of the HC family. The consumption of HC by human might prevent cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. The solubility of HCs is increased through thioester conjugation to various compounds such as quinic acid, shikimic acid, malic acid, anthranilic acid, and glycerol. Although hydroxycinnamate conjugates can be obtained from diverse plant sources such as coffee, tomato, potato, apple, and sweet potato, some parts of the world have limited availability to these compounds. Thus, there is growing interest in producing HC conjugates as nutraceutical supplements.
Hydroxycinnamoyl transferases (HCTs) including hydroxycinnamate-CoA shikimate transferase (HST) and hydroxycinnamate-CoA quinate transferase (HQT) were co-expressed with 4-coumarateCoA:ligase (4CL) in Escherichia coli cultured in media supplemented with HCs. Two hydroxycinnamoyl conjugates, p-coumaroyl shikimates and chlorogenic acid, were thereby synthesized. Total 29.1 mg/L of four different p-coumaroyl shikimates (3-p-coumaroyl shikimate, 4-p-coumaroyl shikimate, 3,4-di-p-coumaroyl shikimate, 3,5-di-p-coumaroyl shikimate, and 4,5-di-p-coumaroyl shikimate) was obtained and 16 mg/L of chlorogenic acid was synthesized in the wild type E. coli strain. To increase the concentration of endogenous acceptor substrates such as shikimate and quinate, the shikimate pathway in E. coli was engineered. A E. coli aroL and aroK gene were mutated and the resulting mutants were used for the production of p-coumaroyl shikimate. An E. coli aroD mutant was used for the production of chlorogenic acid. We also optimized the vector and cell concentration optimization.
To produce p-coumaroyl-shikimates and chlorogenic acid in E. coli, several E. coli mutants (an aroD mutant for chlorogenic acid production; an aroL, aroK, and aroKL mutant for p-coumaroyl-shikimates production) were made and each mutant was tested using an optimized construct. Using this strategy, we produced 235 mg/L of p-coumaroyl-shikimates and 450 mg/L of chlorogenic acid.
PMCID: PMC3621256  PMID: 23383718
Chlorogenic acid; Hydroxycinnamic acid; Hydroxycinnamate-CoA quinate transferase; Hydroxycinnamate-CoA shikimate transferase
5.  Transcriptome Analysis of Buds and Leaves Using 454 Pyrosequencing to Discover Genes Associated with the Biosynthesis of Active Ingredients in Lonicera japonica Thunb. 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e62922.
Lonicera japonica Thunb. is a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-carcinogenic, and antiviral pharmacological properties. The major active secondary metabolites of this plant are chlorogenic acid (CGA) and luteoloside. While the biosynthetic pathways of these metabolites are relatively well known, the genetic information available for this species, especially the biosynthetic pathways of its active ingredients, is limited.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We obtained one million reads (average length of 400 bp) in a whole sequence run using a Roche/454 GS FLX titanium platform. Altogether, 85.69% of the unigenes covering the entire life cycle of the plant were annotated and 325 unigenes were assigned to secondary metabolic pathways. Moreover, 2039 unigenes were predicted as transcription factors. Nearly all of the possible enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of CGA and luteoloside were discovered in L. japonica. Three hydroxycinnamoyl transferase genes, including two hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA quinate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase genes and one hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT) gene featuring high similarity to known genes from other species, were cloned. The HCT gene was discovered for the first time in L. japonica. In addition, 188 candidate cytochrome P450 unigenes and 245 glycosyltransferase unigenes were found in the expressed sequence tag (EST) dataset.
This study provides a high quality EST database for L. japonica by 454 pyrosequencing. Based on the EST annotation, a set of putative genes involved in CGA and luteoloside biosynthetic pathways were discovered. The database serves as an important source of public information on genetic markers, gene expression, genomics, and functional genomics in L. japonica.
PMCID: PMC3636143  PMID: 23638167
6.  Genetic mapping and identification of QTL for earliness in the globe artichoke/cultivated cardoon complex 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:252.
The Asteraceae species Cynara cardunculus (2n = 2x = 34) includes the two fully cross-compatible domesticated taxa globe artichoke (var. scolymus L.) and cultivated cardoon (var. altilis DC). As both are out-pollinators and suffer from marked inbreeding depression, linkage analysis has focussed on the use of a two way pseudo-test cross approach.
A set of 172 microsatellite (SSR) loci derived from expressed sequence tag DNA sequence were integrated into the reference C. cardunculus genetic maps, based on segregation among the F1 progeny of a cross between a globe artichoke and a cultivated cardoon. The resulting maps each detected 17 major linkage groups, corresponding to the species’ haploid chromosome number. A consensus map based on 66 co-dominant shared loci (64 SSRs and two SNPs) assembled 694 loci, with a mean inter-marker spacing of 2.5 cM. When the maps were used to elucidate the pattern of inheritance of head production earliness, a key commercial trait, seven regions were shown to harbour relevant quantitative trait loci (QTL). Together, these QTL accounted for up to 74% of the overall phenotypic variance.
The newly developed consensus as well as the parental genetic maps can accelerate the process of tagging and eventually isolating the genes underlying earliness in both the domesticated C. cardunculus forms. The largest single effect mapped to the same linkage group in each parental maps, and explained about one half of the phenotypic variance, thus representing a good candidate for marker assisted selection.
PMCID: PMC3434057  PMID: 22621324
Cynara cardunculus; Linkage map; Microsatellite; QTL; Earliness
7.  Leaf polyphenol profile and SSR-based fingerprinting of new segregant Cynara cardunculus genotypes 
The dietary value of many plant polyphenols lies in the protection given against degenerative pathologies. Their in planta role is associated with the host's defense response against biotic and abiotic stress. The polyphenol content of a given plant tissue is strongly influenced by the growing environment, but is also genetically determined. Plants belonging to the Cynara cardunculus species (globe artichoke and the cultivated and wild cardoon) accumulate substantial quantities of polyphenols mainly mono and di-caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) in their foliage. Transgressive segregation for CQA content in an F1 population bred from a cross between a globe artichoke and a cultivated cardoon led to the selection of eight segregants which accumulated more CQA in their leaves than did those of either of their parental genotypes. The selections were grown over two seasons to assess their polyphenol profile (CQAs, apigenin and luteolin derivatives and narirutin), and were also fingerprinted using a set of 217 microsatellite markers. The growing environment exerted a strong effect on polyphenol content, but two of the selections were able to accumulate up to an order of magnitude more CQA than either parent in both growing seasons. Since the species is readily vegetatively propagable, such genotypes can be straightforwardly exploited as a source of pharmaceutically valuable compounds, while their SSR-based fingerprinting will allow the genetic identity of clonally propagated material to be easily verified.
PMCID: PMC4300902  PMID: 25653660
Cynara cardunculus; genotype; growing season; SSRs analysis; caffeoylquinic acids; flavones
8.  Silencing an N-Acyltransferase-Like Involved in Lignin Biosynthesis in Nicotiana attenuata Dramatically Alters Herbivory-Induced Phenolamide Metabolism 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62336.
In a transcriptomic screen of Manduca sexta-induced N-acyltransferases in leaves of Nicotiana attenuata, we identified an N-acyltransferase gene sharing a high similarity with the tobacco lignin-biosynthetic hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT) gene whose expression is controlled by MYB8, a transcription factor that regulates the production of phenylpropanoid polyamine conjugates (phenolamides, PAs). To evaluate the involvement of this HCT-like gene in lignin production as well as the resulting crosstalk with PA metabolism during insect herbivory, we transiently silenced (by VIGs) the expression of this gene and performed non-targeted (UHPLC-ESI/TOF-MS) metabolomics analyses. In agreement with a conserved function of N. attenuata HCT-like in lignin biogenesis, HCT-silenced plants developed weak, soft stems with greatly reduced lignin contents. Metabolic profiling demonstrated large shifts (up to 12% deregulation in total extracted ions in insect-attacked leaves) due to a large diversion of activated coumaric acid units into the production of developmentally and herbivory-induced coumaroyl-containing PAs (N′,N′′-dicoumaroylspermidine, N′,N′′-coumaroylputrescine, etc) and to minor increases in the most abundant free phenolics (chlorogenic and cryptochlorogenic acids), all without altering the production of well characterized herbivory-responsive caffeoyl- and feruloyl-based putrescine and spermidine PAs. These data are consistent with a strong metabolic tension, exacerbated during herbivory, over the allocation of coumaroyl-CoA units among lignin and unusual coumaroyl-containing PAs, and rule out a role for HCT-LIKE in tuning the herbivory-induced accumulation of other PAs. Additionally, these results are consistent with a role for lignification as an induced anti-herbivore defense.
PMCID: PMC3660383  PMID: 23704878
9.  RAD tag sequencing as a source of SNP markers in Cynara cardunculus L 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:3.
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus) genome is relatively poorly explored, especially compared to those of the other major Asteraceae crops sunflower and lettuce. No SNP markers are in the public domain. We have combined the recently developed restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) approach with the Illumina DNA sequencing platform to effect the rapid and mass discovery of SNP markers for C. cardunculus.
RAD tags were sequenced from the genomic DNA of three C. cardunculus mapping population parents, generating 9.7 million reads, corresponding to ~1 Gbp of sequence. An assembly based on paired ends produced ~6.0 Mbp of genomic sequence, separated into ~19,000 contigs (mean length 312 bp), of which ~21% were fragments of putative coding sequence. The shared sequences allowed for the discovery of ~34,000 SNPs and nearly 800 indels, equivalent to a SNP frequency of 5.6 per 1,000 nt, and an indel frequency of 0.2 per 1,000 nt. A sample of heterozygous SNP loci was mapped by CAPS assays and this exercise provided validation of our mining criteria. The repetitive fraction of the genome had a high representation of retrotransposon sequence, followed by simple repeats, AT-low complexity regions and mobile DNA elements. The genomic k-mers distribution and CpG rate of C. cardunculus, compared with data derived from three whole genome-sequenced dicots species, provided a further evidence of the random representation of the C. cardunculus genome generated by RAD sampling.
The RAD tag sequencing approach is a cost-effective and rapid method to develop SNP markers in a highly heterozygous species. Our approach permitted to generate a large and robust SNP datasets by the adoption of optimized filtering criteria.
PMCID: PMC3269995  PMID: 22214349
10.  Ontology and diversity of transcript-associated microsatellites mined from a globe artichoke EST database 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:454.
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus L.) is a significant crop in the Mediterranean basin. Despite its commercial importance and its both dietary and pharmaceutical value, knowledge of its genetics and genomics remains scant. Microsatellite markers have become a key tool in genetic and genomic analysis, and we have exploited recently acquired EST (expressed sequence tag) sequence data (Composite Genome Project - CGP) to develop an extensive set of microsatellite markers.
A unigene assembly was created from over 36,000 globe artichoke EST sequences, containing 6,621 contigs and 12,434 singletons. Over 12,000 of these unigenes were functionally assigned on the basis of homology with Arabidopsis thaliana reference proteins. A total of 4,219 perfect repeats, located within 3,308 unigenes was identified and the gene ontology (GO) analysis highlighted some GO term's enrichments among different classes of microsatellites with respect to their position. Sufficient flanking sequence was available to enable the design of primers to amplify 2,311 of these microsatellites, and a set of 300 was tested against a DNA panel derived from 28 C. cardunculus genotypes. Consistent amplification and polymorphism was obtained from 236 of these assays. Their polymorphic information content (PIC) ranged from 0.04 to 0.90 (mean 0.66). Between 176 and 198 of the assays were informative in at least one of the three available mapping populations.
EST-based microsatellites have provided a large set of de novo genetic markers, which show significant amounts of polymorphism both between and within the three taxa of C. cardunculus. They are thus well suited as assays for phylogenetic analysis, the construction of genetic maps, marker-assisted breeding, transcript mapping and other genomic applications in the species.
PMCID: PMC2760586  PMID: 19785740
11.  Analysis of Phenolic Acids of Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) Responding to Salt-Stress by Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:568043.
Plant phenolics can have applications in pharmaceutical and other industries. To identify and quantify the phenolic compounds in Helianthus tuberosus leaves, qualitative analysis was performed by a reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) and quantitative analysis by HPLC. Ten chlorogenic acids (CGAs) were identified (3-o-caffeoylquinic acid, two isomers of caffeoylquinic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaroyl-quinic acid, feruloylquinic acid, 3,4-dicaffeoyquinic acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, and 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid) by comparing their retention times, UV-Vis absorption spectra, and MS/MS spectra with standards. In addition, four other phenolic compounds, including caffeoyl glucopyranose, isorhamnetin glucoside, kaempferol glucuronide, and kaempferol-3-o-glucoside, were tentatively identified in Helianthus tuberosus leaves for the first time. The 3-o-caffeoylquinic acid (7.752 mg/g DW), 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid (5.633 mg/g DW), and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid (4.900 mg/g DW) were the major phenolic compounds in leaves of Helianthus tuberosus cultivar NanYu in maturity. The variations in phenolic concentrations and proportions in Helianthus tuberosus leaves were influenced by genotype and plant growth stage. Cultivar NanYu had the highest concentration of phenolic compounds, in particular 3-o-caffeoylquinic acid and 4,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid compared with the other genotypes (wild accession and QingYu). Considering various growth stages, the concentration of total phenolics in cultivar NanYu was higher at flowering stage (5.270 mg/g DW) than at budding and tuber swelling stages. Cultivar NanYu of Helianthus tuberosus is a potential source of natural phenolics that may play an important role in the development of pharmaceuticals.
PMCID: PMC4181500  PMID: 25302328
12.  Assessment of the Genetic Diversity among Strains of Xanthomonas cynarae by Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA Analysis and Development of Specific Characterized Amplified Regions for the Rapid Identification of X. cynarae 
The randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) method was used to investigate the genetic diversity in Xanthomonas cynarae, which causes bacterial bract spot disease of artichoke. This RAPD analysis was also intended to identify molecular markers characteristic of this species, in order to develop PCR-based markers which can be used to detect this pathogenic bacterium in artichoke fields. Among the 340 RAPD primers tested, 40 were selected on their ability to produce reproducible and reliable fingerprints in our genetic background. These 40 primers produced almost similar patterns for the 37 X. cynarae strains studied, different from the fingerprints obtained for other Xanthomonas species and other xanthomonad-like bacteria isolated from artichoke leaves. Therefore, X. cynarae strains form a homogeneous genetic group. However, a little DNA polymorphism within this species was observed and the collection of X. cynarae isolates was divided into two groups (one containing three strains, the second one including all other strains). Out of seven RAPD markers characteristic of X. cynarae that were cloned, four did not hybridize to the genomic DNA of strains belonging to other Xanthomonas species. These four RAPD markers were converted into PCR markers (specific characterized amplified regions [SCARs]); they were sequenced, and a PCR primer pair was designed for each of them. Three derived SCARs are good candidates to develop PCR-based tests to detect X. cynarae in artichoke fields.
PMCID: PMC93031  PMID: 11472907
13.  CYP98A22, a phenolic ester 3’-hydroxylase specialized in the synthesis of chlorogenic acid, as a new tool for enhancing the furanocoumarin concentration in Ruta graveolens 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:152.
Furanocoumarins are molecules with proven therapeutic properties and are produced in only a small number of medicinal plant species such as Ruta graveolens. In vivo, these molecules play a protective role against phytophageous insect attack. Furanocoumarins are members of the phenylpropanoids family, and their biosynthetic pathway is initiated from p-coumaroyl coA. The enzymes belonging to the CYP98A cytochrome P450 family have been widely described as being aromatic meta-hydroxylases of various substrates, such as p-coumaroyl ester derivatives, and are involved in the synthesis of coumarins such as scopoletin. In furanocoumarin-producing plants, these enzymes catalyze the step directly downstream of the junction with the furanocoumarin biosynthetic pathway and might indirectly impact their synthesis.
In this work, we describe the cloning and functional characterization of the first CYP98A encoding gene isolated from R. graveolens. Using Nicotiana benthamiana as a heterologous expression system, we have demonstrated that this enzyme adds a 3-OH to p-coumaroyl ester derivatives but is more efficient to convert p-coumaroyl quinate into chlorogenic acid than to metabolize p-coumaroyl shikimate. Plants exposed to UV-B stress showed an enhanced expression level of the corresponding gene. The R. graveolens cyp98a22 open reading frame and the orthologous Arabidopsis thaliana cyp98a3 open reading frame were overexpressed in stable transgenic Ruta plants. Both plant series were analyzed for their production of scopoletin and furanocoumarin. A detailed analysis indicates that both genes enhance the production of furanocoumarins but that CYP98A22, unlike CYP98A3, doesn’t affect the synthesis of scopoletin.
The overexpression of CYP98A22 positively impacts the concentration of furanocoumarins in R. graveolens. This gene is therefore a valuable tool to engineer plants with improved therapeutical values that might also be more resistant to phytophageous insects.
PMCID: PMC3493272  PMID: 22931486
14.  Hydroxycinnamic Acid Derivatives Obtained from a Commercial Crataegus Extract and from Authentic Crataegus spp.§ 
Scientia Pharmaceutica  2014;82(4):835-846.
Eleven hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives were isolated from a 70% methanolic Crataegus extract (Crataegi folium cum flore) and partly verified and quantified for individual Crataegus species (C. laevigata, C. monogyna, C. nigra, C. pentagyna) by HPLC: 3-O-(E)-p-coumaroylquinic acid (1), 5-O-(E)-p-coumaroyl-quinic acid (2), 4-O-(E)-p-coumaroylquinic acid (3), 3-O-(E)-caffeoylquinic acid (4), 4-O-(E)-caffeoylquinic acid (5), 5-O-(E)-caffeoylquinic acid (6), 3,5-di-O-(E)-caffeoylquinic acid (7), 4,5-di-O-(E)-caffeoylquinic acid (8), (-)-2-O-(E)-caffeoyl-L-threonic acid (9), (-)-4-O-(E)-caffeoyl-L-threonic acid (10), and (-)-4-O-(E)-p-coumaroyl-L-threonic acid (11). Further, (-)-2-O-(E)-caffeoyl-D-malic acid (12) was isolated from C. submollis and also identified for C. pentagyna and C. nigra by co-chromatography. The isolates 10 and 11 were not found in the authentic fresh specimen, indicating that they may be formed during extraction by acyl migration from the 2-O-acylderivatives. Also, 9 and 11 are described here for the first time. All structures were assigned on the basis of their spectroscopic data (1H-, 13C-NMR, MS, optical rotation).
PMCID: PMC4475804  PMID: 26171328
Crataegus spp.; Rosaceae; Hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives; Hydroxycinnamoyl quinic acids; Hydroxycinnamoyl threonic acids
15.  Production of hydroxycinnamoyl anthranilates from glucose in Escherichia coli 
Oats contain hydroxycinnamoyl anthranilates, also named avenanthramides (Avn), which have beneficial health properties because of their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiproliferative effects. The microbial production of hydroxycinnamoyl anthranilates is an eco-friendly alternative to chemical synthesis or purification from plant sources. We recently demonstrated in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that coexpression of 4-coumarate: CoA ligase (4CL) from Arabidopsis thaliana and hydroxycinnamoyl/benzoyl-CoA/anthranilate N-hydroxycinnamoyl/benzoyltransferase (HCBT) from Dianthus caryophyllusenabled the biological production of several cinnamoyl anthranilates upon feeding with anthranilate and various cinnamates. Using engineering strategies to overproduce anthranilate and hydroxycinnamates, we describe here an entire pathway for the microbial synthesis of two Avns from glucose in Escherichia coli.
We first showed that coexpression of HCBT and Nt4CL1 from tobacco in the E. coli anthranilate-accumulating strain W3110 trpD9923 allowed the production of Avn D [N-(4′-hydroxycinnamoyl)-anthranilic acid] and Avn F [N-(3′,4′-dihydroxycinnamoyl)-anthranilic acid] upon feeding with p-coumarate and caffeate, respectively. Moreover, additional expression in this strain of a tyrosine ammonia-lyase from Rhodotorula glutinis (RgTAL) led to the conversion of endogenous tyrosine into p-coumarate and resulted in the production of Avn D from glucose. Second, a 135-fold improvement in Avn D titer was achieved by boosting tyrosine production using two plasmids that express the eleven genes necessary for tyrosine synthesis from erythrose 4-phosphate and phosphoenolpyruvate. Finally, expression of either the p-coumarate 3-hydroxylase Sam5 from Saccharothrix espanensis or the hydroxylase complex HpaBC from E. coli resulted in the endogenous production of caffeate and biosynthesis of Avn F.
We established a biosynthetic pathway for the microbial production of valuable hydroxycinnamoyl anthranilates from an inexpensive carbon source. The proposed pathway will serve as a platform for further engineering toward economical and sustainable bioproduction of these pharmaceuticals and other related aromatic compounds.
PMCID: PMC3716870  PMID: 23806124
Avenanthramide; Tranilast; BAHD; Antioxidant; Anti-inflammatory; Tyrosine; Anthranilate; Hydroxycinnamate; Biological synthesis; Escherichia coli
16.  Cultivation and Characterization of Cynara Cardunculus for Solid Biofuels Production in the Mediterranean Region 
Technical specifications of solid biofuels are continuously improved towards the development and promotion of their market. Efforts in the Greek market are limited, mainly due to the climate particularity of the region, which hinders the growth of suitable biofuels. Taking also into account the increased oil prices and the high inputs required to grow most annual crops in Greece, cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L.) is now considered the most important and promising sources for solid biofuel production in Greece in the immediate future. The reason is that cardoon is a perennial crop of Mediterranean origin, well adapted to the xerothermic conditions of southern Europe, which can be utilized particularly for solid biofuel production. This is due to its minimum production cost, as this perennial weed may perform high biomass productivity on most soils with modest or without any inputs of irrigation and agrochemicals. Within this framework, the present research work is focused on the planning and analysis of different land use scenarios involving this specific energy crop and the combustion behaviour characterization for the solid products. Such land use scenarios are based on quantitative estimates of the crop'sproduction potential under specific soil-climatic conditions as well as the inputs required for its realization in comparison to existing conventional crops. Concerning its decomposition behaviour, devolatilisation and char combustion tests were performed in a non-isothermal thermogravimetric analyser (TA Q600). A kinetic analysis was applied and accrued results were compared with data already available for other lignocellulosic materials. The thermogravimetric analysis showed that the decomposition process of cardoon follows the degradation of other lignocellulosic fuels, meeting high burnout rates. This research work concludes that Cynara cardunculus, under certain circumstances, can be used as a solid biofuel of acceptable quality.
PMCID: PMC2635723  PMID: 19325802
energy crops; thermogravimetry; devolatilization; combustion; cynara cardunculus
17.  Functional Roles of Three Cutin Biosynthetic Acyltransferases in Cytokinin Responses and Skotomorphogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0121943.
Cytokinins (CKs) regulate plant development and growth via a two-component signaling pathway. By forward genetic screening, we isolated an Arabidopsis mutant named grow fast on cytokinins 1 (gfc1), whose seedlings grew larger aerial parts on MS medium with CK. gfc1 is allelic to a previously reported cutin mutant defective in cuticular ridges (dcr). GFC1/DCR encodes a soluble BAHD acyltransferase (a name based on the first four enzymes characterized in this family: Benzylalcohol O-acetyltransferase, Anthocyanin O-hydroxycinnamoyltransferase, anthranilate N-hydroxycinnamoyl/benzoyltransferase and Deacetylvindoline 4-O-acetyltransferase) with diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) activity in vitro and is necessary for normal cuticle formation on epidermis in vivo. Here we show that gfc1 was a CK-insensitive mutant, as revealed by its low regeneration frequency in vitro and resistance to CK in adventitious root formation and dark-grown hypocotyl inhibition assays. In addition, gfc1 had de-etiolated phenotypes in darkness and was therefore defective in skotomorphogenesis. The background expression levels of most type-A Arabidopsis Response Regulator (ARR) genes were higher in the gfc1 mutant. The gfc1-associated phenotypes were also observed in the cutin-deficient glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase 4/8 (gpat4/8) double mutant [defective in glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) acyltransferase enzymes GPAT4 and GPAT8, which redundantly catalyze the acylation of G3P by hydroxyl fatty acid (OH-FA)], but not in the cutin-deficient mutant cytochrome p450, family 86, subfamily A, polypeptide 2/aberrant induction of type three 1 (cyp86A2/att1), which affects the biosynthesis of some OH-FAs. Our results indicate that some acyltransferases associated with cutin formation are involved in CK responses and skotomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC4372371  PMID: 25803274
18.  Chlorogenic Acid Stimulates Glucose Transport in Skeletal Muscle via AMPK Activation: A Contributor to the Beneficial Effects of Coffee on Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32718.
Chlorogenic acid (CGA) has been shown to delay intestinal glucose absorption and inhibit gluconeogenesis. Our aim was to investigate the role of CGA in the regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle isolated from db/db mice and L6 skeletal muscle cells. Oral glucose tolerance test was performed on db/db mice treated with CGA and soleus muscle was isolated for 2-deoxyglucose transport study. 2DG transport was also examined in L6 myotubes with or without inhibitors such as wortmannin or compound c. AMPK was knocked down with AMPKα1/2 siRNA to study its effect on CGA-stimulated glucose transport. GLUT 4 translocation, phosphorylation of AMPK and Akt, AMPK activity, and association of IRS-1 and PI3K were investigated in the presence of CGA. In db/db mice, a significant decrease in fasting blood sugar was observed 10 minutes after the intraperitoneal administration of 250 mg/kg CGA and the effect persisted for another 30 minutes after the glucose challenge. Besides, CGA stimulated and enhanced both basal and insulin-mediated 2DG transports in soleus muscle. In L6 myotubes, CGA caused a dose- and time-dependent increase in glucose transport. Compound c and AMPKα1/2 siRNA abrogated the CGA-stimulated glucose transport. Consistent with these results, CGA was found to phosphorylate AMPK and ACC, consistent with the result of increased AMPK activities. CGA did not appear to enhance association of IRS-1 with p85. However, we observed activation of Akt by CGA. These parallel activations in turn increased translocation of GLUT 4 to plasma membrane. At 2 mmol/l, CGA did not cause any significant changes in viability or proliferation of L6 myotubes. Our data demonstrated for the first time that CGA stimulates glucose transport in skeletal muscle via the activation of AMPK. It appears that CGA may contribute to the beneficial effects of coffee on Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC3296733  PMID: 22412912
19.  Experimental colitis in mice is attenuated by topical administration of chlorogenic acid 
Epidemiological data suggest that the consumption of polyphenol-rich foods reduces the incidence of cancer, coronary heart disease, and inflammation. Chlorogenic acid (CGA), an ester of caffeic and quinic acids, is one of the most abundant polyphenol compounds in human diet with proven biological effectiveness both in vitro and in vivo. The aim of the study is to investigate the possible anti-inflammatory effect of CGA in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and its mechanism of action. We used a well-established model of colitis, induced by intracolonic (i.c.) administration of trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS) in mice. The anti-inflammatory effect of CGA in the colon was evaluated based on the clinical and macroscopic and microscopic parameters. To investigate the mechanism of protective action of CGA, myeloperoxidase (MPO), H2O2, and NF-κB levels were assessed in the colon tissue. CGA administered i.c. at the dose of 20 mg/kg (two times daily) protected against TNBS-induced colitis more effectively than the same dose administered orally (p.o.), as evidenced by significantly lower macroscopic and ulcer scores. Furthermore, CGA (20 mg/kg, i.c.) reduced neutrophil infiltration, as demonstrated by decreased MPO activity. Moreover, CGA suppressed activation of NF-κB, as evidenced by lower levels of phospho-NF-κB/NF-κB ratio in the tissue. CGA did not affect the oxidative stress pathways. CGA exhibits anti-inflammatory properties through reduction of neutrophil infiltration and inhibition of NF-κB-dependent pathways. Our results suggest that CGA may have the potential to become a valuable supplement in the treatment of GI diseases.
PMCID: PMC4438256  PMID: 25743575
Chlorogenic acid; Trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid; Experimental colitis; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis
20.  Hydroxycinnamate (hca) Catabolic Genes from Acinetobacter sp. Strain ADP1 Are Repressed by HcaR and Are Induced by Hydroxycinnamoyl-Coenzyme A Thioesters 
Hydroxycinnamates are plant products catabolized through the diphenol protocatechuate in the naturally transformable bacterium Acinetobacter sp. strain ADP1. Genes for protocatechuate catabolism are central to the dca-pca-qui-pob-hca chromosomal island, for which gene designations corresponding to catabolic function are dca (dicarboxylic acid), pca (protocatechuate), qui (quinate), pob (p-hydroxybenzoate), and hca (hydroxycinnamate). Acinetobacter hcaC had been cloned and shown to encode a hydroxycinnamate:coenzyme A (CoA) SH ligase that acts upon caffeate, p-coumarate, and ferulate, but genes for conversion of hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA to protocatechuate had not been characterized. In this investigation, DNA from pobS to an XbaI site 5.3 kb beyond hcaC was captured in the plasmid pZR8200 by a strategy that involved in vivo integration of a cloning vector near the hca region of the chromosome. pZR8200 enabled Escherichia coli to convert p-coumarate to protocatechuate in vivo. Sequence analysis of the newly cloned DNA identified five open reading frames designated hcaA, hcaB, hcaK, hcaR, and ORF1. An Acinetobacter strain with a knockout of HcaA, a homolog of hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA hydratase/lyases, was unable to grow at the expense of hydroxycinnamates, whereas a strain mutated in HcaB, homologous to aldehyde dehydrogenases, grew poorly with ferulate and caffeate but well with p-coumarate. A chromosomal fusion of lacZ to the hcaE gene was used to monitor expression of the hcaABCDE promoter. LacZ was induced over 100-fold by growth in the presence of caffeate, p-coumarate, or ferulate. The protein deduced to be encoded by hcaR shares 28% identity with the aligned E. coli repressor, MarR. A knockout of hcaR produced a constitutive phenotype, as assessed in the hcaE::lacZ-Kmr genetic background, revealing HcaR to be a repressor as well. Expression of hcaE::lacZ in strains with knockouts in hcaA, hcaB, or hcaC revealed unambiguously that hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA thioesters relieve repression of the hcaABCDE genes by HcaR.
PMCID: PMC194952  PMID: 12957928
21.  Protective Effects of Chlorogenic Acid against Experimental Reflux Esophagitis in Rats 
Biomolecules & Therapeutics  2014;22(5):420-425.
Esophageal reflux of gastric contents causes esophageal mucosal damage and inflammation. Recent studies show that oxygen-derived free radicals mediate mucosal damage in reflux esophagitis (RE). Chlorogenic acid (CGA), an ester of caffeic acid and quinic acid, is one of the most abundant polyphenols in the human diet and possesses anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-oxidant activities. In this context, we investigated the effects of CGA against experimental RE in rats. RE was produced by ligating the transitional region between the forestomach and the glandular portion and covering the duodenum near the pylorus ring with a small piece of catheter. CGA (10, 30 and 100 mg/kg) and omeprazole (positive control, 10 mg/kg) were administered orally 48 h after the RE operation for 12 days. CGA reduced the severity of esophageal lesions, and this beneficial effect was confirmed by histopathological observations. CGA reduced esophageal lipid peroxidation and increased the reduced glutathione/oxidized glutathione ratio. CGA attenuated increases in the serum level of tumor necrosis factor-α, and expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 protein. CGA alleviates RE-induced mucosal injury, and this protection is associated with reduced oxidative stress and the anti-inflammatory properties of CGA.
PMCID: PMC4201226  PMID: 25414772
Chlorogenic acid; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; Reflux esophagitis
22.  Complete Chloroplast Genome of the Multifunctional Crop Globe Artichoke and Comparison with Other Asteraceae 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0120589.
With over 20,000 species, Asteraceae is the second largest plant family. High-throughput sequencing of nuclear and chloroplast genomes has allowed for a better understanding of the evolutionary relationships within large plant families. Here, the globe artichoke chloroplast (cp) genome was obtained by a combination of whole-genome and BAC clone high-throughput sequencing. The artichoke cp genome is 152,529 bp in length, consisting of two single-copy regions separated by a pair of inverted repeats (IRs) of 25,155 bp, representing the longest IRs found in the Asteraceae family so far. The large (LSC) and the small (SSC) single-copy regions span 83,578 bp and 18,641 bp, respectively. The artichoke cp sequence was compared to the other eight Asteraceae complete cp genomes available, revealing an IR expansion at the SSC/IR boundary. This expansion consists of 17 bp of the ndhF gene generating an overlap between the ndhF and ycf1 genes. A total of 127 cp simple sequence repeats (cpSSRs) were identified in the artichoke cp genome, potentially suitable for future population studies in the Cynara genus. Parsimony-informative regions were evaluated and allowed to place a Cynara species within the Asteraceae family tree. The eight most informative coding regions were also considered and tested for “specific barcode” purpose in the Asteraceae family. Our results highlight the usefulness of cp genome sequencing in exploring plant genome diversity and retrieving reliable molecular resources for phylogenetic and evolutionary studies, as well as for specific barcodes in plants.
PMCID: PMC4361619  PMID: 25774672
23.  Standardised herbal extract of chlorogenic acid from leaves of Etlingera elatior (Zingiberaceae) 
Pharmacognosy Research  2011;3(3):178-184.
Chlorogenic acid (CGA) or 5-caffeoylquinic acid, was found to be the dominant phenolic compound in leaves of Etlingera elatior (Zingiberaceae). The CGA content of E. elatior leaves was significantly higher than flowers of Lonicera japonica (honeysuckle), the commercial source. In this study, a protocol to produce a standardised herbal CGA extract from leaves of E. elatior using column chromatography was developed.
Materials and Methods:
Freeze-dried leaves of E. elatior were extracted with 30% ethanol, and sequentially fractionated using Diaion HP-20 and Sephadex LH-20.
The CGA fractions, which yielded extracts of 10% and 40% w/w purity, possessed antioxidant, tyrosinase inhibition, and antibacterial properties. The entire fractionation process took only 6.5 hours, using gravity flow. From 50 g of leaves, the final yield of CGA extract was 0.2 g (0.4%). The CGA content of the standardised herbal extract from leaves of E. elatior (40%) is 1.6 times that of commercial extracts from honeysuckle flowers (25%).
With high CGA content, the standardised herbal extract has a great potential to be developed into functional food and other health products. Leaves of E. elatior, which currently have no economic value, could serve as an alternative source of CGA. Leaves are large, available in abundance, and harvesting is non-destructive to the plants.
PMCID: PMC3193618  PMID: 22022166
Chlorogenic acid; column chromatography; fractionation; standardised extract
24.  Protease and Hemicellulase Assisted Extraction of Dietary Fiber from Wastes of Cynara cardunculus 
The action of protease and hemicellulase for the extraction of fractions enriched in soluble fiber from bracts and stems of Cynara cardunculus was evaluated. Using a two-factor simplex design comprising protease amounts of 0–200 μL and hemicellulase amounts of 0–200 mg for 5 g of material, we explored the effect of a 5 h enzymatic treatment at 40 °C on the chemical composition and yield of the fractions isolated. The fractions contained inulin and pectin. In general, the protein, inulin, and polyphenol contents and also the yields were higher for fractions obtained from stems. The most marked effects were observed when enzymes were used at higher concentrations, especially for hemicellulase. The inclusion of a pre-heating step increased the yield and the inulin content for fractions isolated from bracts and stems and decreased the protein and polyphenol contents, and the galacturonic acid for bracts. These fractions, in general, contained the polyphenolic compounds monocaffeoylquinic acid, apigenin, and pinoresinol.
PMCID: PMC4394519  PMID: 25809605
Cynara cardunculus; protease; hemicellulase; biomass to chemicals; inulin; pectin; polyphenols
25.  Use of the growing environment as a source of variation to identify the quantitative trait transcripts and modules of co-expressed genes that determine chlorogenic acid accumulation 
Plant, Cell & Environment  2010;33(7):1220-1233.
Developing Coffea arabica seeds accumulate large amounts of chlorogenic acids (CGAs) as a storage form of phenylpropanoid derivatives, making coffee a valuable model to investigate the metabolism of these widespread plant phenolics. However, developmental and environmental regulations of CGA metabolism are poorly understood. In the present work, the expression of selected phenylpropanoid genes, together with CGA isomer profiles, was monitored throughout seed development across a wide set of contrasted natural environments. Although CGA metabolism was controlled by major developmental factors, the mean temperature during seed development had a direct impact on the time-window of CGA biosynthesis, as well as on final CGA isomer composition through subtle transcriptional regulations. We provide evidence that the variability induced by the environment is a useful tool to test whether CGA accumulation is quantitatively modulated at the transcriptional level, hence enabling detection of rate-limiting transcriptional steps [quantitative trait transcripts (QTTs)] for CGA biosynthesis. Variations induced by the environment also enabled a better description of the phenylpropanoid gene transcriptional network throughout seed development, as well as the detection of three temporally distinct modules of quantitatively co-expressed genes. Finally, analysis of metabolite-to-metabolite relationships revealed new biochemical characteristics of the isomerization steps that remain uncharacterized at the gene level.
PMCID: PMC2904492  PMID: 20199615
Coffea; albuminous seed; caffeoyl quinic acid; co-expression network; endosperm; feruloyl quinic acid; phenylpropanoid; temperature; transcriptome

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