As a major component of plant specialized metabolism, phenylpropanoid biosynthetic pathways provide anthocyanins for pigmentation, flavonoids such as flavones for protection against UV photodamage, various flavonoid and isoflavonoid inducers of Rhizobium nodulation genes, polymeric lignin for structural support and assorted antimicrobial phytoalexins. As constituents of plant-rich diets and an assortment of herbal medicinal agents, the phenylpropanoids exhibit measurable cancer chemopreventive, antimitotic, estrogenic, antimalarial, antioxidant and antiasthmatic activities. The health benefits of consuming red wine, which contains significant amounts of 3,4′,5-trihydroxystilbene (resveratrol) and other phenylpropanoids, highlight the increasing awareness in the medical community and the public at large as to the potential dietary importance of these plant derived compounds. As recently as a decade ago, little was known about the three-dimensional structure of the enzymes involved in these highly branched biosynthetic pathways. Ten years ago, we initiated X-ray crystallographic analyses of key enzymes of this pathway, complemented by biochemical and enzyme engineering studies. We first investigated chalcone synthase (CHS), the entry point of the flavonoid pathway, and its close relative stilbene synthase (STS). Work soon followed on the O-methyl transferases (OMTs) involved in modifications of chalcone, isoflavonoids and metabolic precursors of lignin. More recently, our groups and others have extended the range of phenylpropanoid pathway structural investigations to include the upstream enzymes responsible for the initial recruitment of phenylalanine and tyrosine, as well as a number of reductases, acyltransferases and ancillary tailoring enzymes of phenylpropanoid-derived metabolites. These structure–function studies collectively provide a comprehensive view of an important aspect of phenylpropanoid metabolism. More specifically, these atomic resolution insights into the architecture and mechanistic underpinnings of phenylpropanoid metabolizing enzymes contribute to our understanding of the emergence and on-going evolution of specialized phenylpropanoid products, and underscore the molecular basis of metabolic biodiversity at the chemical level. Finally, the detailed knowledge of the structure, function and evolution of these enzymes of specialized metabolism provide a set of experimental templates for the enzyme and metabolic engineering of production platforms for diverse novel compounds with desirable dietary and medicinal properties.
Phenylpropanoid pathway; Secondary metabolism; Lignin; Flavonoids; Anthocyanins; Plant enzymes; Structure
Lignification of the fruit endocarp layer occurs in many angiosperms and plays a critical role in seed protection and dispersal. This process has been extensively studied with relationship to pod shatter or dehiscence in Arabidopsis. Dehiscence is controlled by a set of transcription factors that define the fruit tissue layers and whether or not they lignify. In contrast, relatively little is known about similar processes in other plants such as stone fruits which contain an extremely hard lignified endocarp or stone surrounding a single seed.
Here we show that lignin deposition in peach initiates near the blossom end within the endocarp layer and proceeds in a distinct spatial-temporal pattern. Microarray studies using a developmental series from young fruits identified a sharp and transient induction of phenylpropanoid, lignin and flavonoid pathway genes concurrent with lignification and subsequent stone hardening. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction studies revealed that specific phenylpropanoid (phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and cinnamate 4-hydroxylase) and lignin (caffeoyl-CoA O-methyltransferase, peroxidase and laccase) pathway genes were induced in the endocarp layer over a 10 day time period, while two lignin genes (p-coumarate 3-hydroxylase and cinnamoyl CoA reductase) were co-regulated with flavonoid pathway genes (chalcone synthase, dihydroflavanol 4-reductase, leucoanthocyanidin dioxygen-ase and flavanone-3-hydrosylase) which were mesocarp and exocarp specific. Analysis of other fruit development expression studies revealed that flavonoid pathway induction is conserved in the related Rosaceae species apple while lignin pathway induction is not. The transcription factor expression of peach genes homologous to known endocarp determinant genes in Arabidopsis including SHATTERPROOF, SEEDSTCK and NAC SECONDARY WALL THICENING PROMOTING FACTOR 1 were found to be specifically expressed in the endocarp while the negative regulator FRUITFUL predominated in exocarp and mesocarp.
Collectively, the data suggests, first, that the process of endocarp determination and differentiation in peach and Arabidopsis share common regulators and, secondly, reveals a previously unknown coordination of competing lignin and flavonoid biosynthetic pathways during early fruit development.
Phenylpropanoids are the precursors to a range of important plant metabolites such as the cell wall constituent lignin and the secondary metabolites belonging to the flavonoid/stilbene class of compounds. The latter class of plant natural products has been shown to function in a wide range of biological activities. During the last few years an increasing number of health benefits have been associated with these compounds. In particular, they demonstrate potent antioxidant activity and the ability to selectively inhibit certain tyrosine kinases. Biosynthesis of many medicinally important plant secondary metabolites, including stilbenes, is frequently not very well understood and under tight spatial and temporal control, limiting their availability from plant sources. As an alternative, we sought to develop an approach for the biosynthesis of diverse stilbenes by engineered recombinant microbial cells.
A pathway for stilbene biosynthesis was constructed in Escherichia coli with 4-coumaroyl CoA ligase 1 4CL1) from Arabidopsis thaliana and stilbene synthase (STS) cloned from Arachis hypogaea. E. coli cultures expressing these enzymes together converted the phenylpropionic acid precursor 4-coumaric acid, added to the growth medium, to the stilbene resveratrol (>100 mg/L). Caffeic acid, added in the same way, resulted in the production of the expected dihydroxylated stilbene, piceatannol (>10 mg/L). Ferulic acid, however, was not converted to the expected stilbene product, isorhapontigenin. Substitution of 4CL1 with a homologous enzyme, 4CL4, with a preference for ferulic acid over 4-coumaric acid, had no effect on the conversion of ferulic acid. Accumulation of tri- and tetraketide lactones from ferulic acid, regardless of the CoA-ligase expressed in E. coli, suggests that STS cannot properly accommodate and fold the tetraketide intermediate to the corresponding stilbene structure.
Phenylpropionic acids, such as 4-coumaric acid and caffeic acid, can be efficiently converted to stilbene compounds by recombinant E. coli cells expressing plant biosynthetic genes. Optimization of precursor conversion and cyclization of the bulky ferulic acid precursor by host metabolic engineering and protein engineering may afford the synthesis of even more structurally diverse stilbene compounds.
Floral volatile benzenoid/phenylpropanoid (FVBP) biosynthesis is a complex and coordinate cellular process executed by petal limb cells of a Petunia×hybrida cv. ‘Mitchell Diploid’ (MD) plant. In MD flowers, the majority of benzenoid volatile compounds are derived from a core phenylpropanoid pathway intermediate by a coenzyme A (CoA) dependent, β-oxidative scheme. Metabolic flux analysis, reverse genetics, and biochemical characterizations of key enzymes in this pathway have supported this putative concept. However, the theoretical first enzymatic reaction, which leads to the production of cinnamoyl-CoA, has only been physically demonstrated in a select number of bacteria like Streptomyces maritimus through mutagenesis and recombinant protein production. A transcript hasbeen cloned and characterized from MD flowers that shares high homology with an Arabidopsis thaliana transcript ACYL-ACTIVATING ENZYME11 (AtAAE11) and the S. maritimus ACYL-COA:LIGASE (SmEncH). In MD, the PhAAE transcript accumulates in a very similar manner as bona fide FVBP network genes, i.e. high levels in an open flower petal and ethylene regulated. In planta, PhAAE is localized to the peroxisome. Upon reduction of PhAAE transcript through a stable RNAi approach, transgenic flowers emitted a reduced level of all benzenoid volatile compounds. Together, the data suggest that PhAAE may be responsible for the activation of t-cinnamic acid, which would be required for floral volatile benzenoid production in MD.
AAE; benzenoid; flower; petunia; t-cinnamic acid; volatiles
Flavonoids are valuable natural products derived from the phenylpropanoid pathway. The objective of this study was to create a host for the biosynthesis of naringenin, the central precursor of many flavonoids. This was accomplished by introducing the phenylpropanoid pathway with the genes for phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL) from Rhodosporidium toruloides, 4-coumarate:coenzyme A (CoA) ligase (4CL) from Arabidopsis thaliana, and chalcone synthase (CHS) from Hypericum androsaemum into two Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, namely, AH22 and a pad1 knockout mutant. Each gene was cloned and inserted into an expression vector under the control of a separate individual GAL10 promoter. Besides its PAL activity, the recombinant PAL enzyme showed tyrosine ammonia lyase activity, which enabled the biosynthesis of naringenin without introducing cinnamate 4-hydroxylase (C4H). 4CL catalyzed the conversion of both trans-cinnamic acid and p-coumaric acid to their corresponding CoA products, which were further converted to pinocembrin chalcone and naringenin chalcone by CHS. These chalcones were cyclized to pinocembrin and naringenin. The yeast AH22 strain coexpressing PAL, 4CL, and CHS produced approximately 7 mg liter−1 of naringenin and 0.8 mg liter−1 of pinocembrin. Several by-products, such as 2′,4′,6′-trihydroxydihydrochalcone and phloretin, were also identified. Precursor feeding studies indicated that metabolic flux to the engineered flavonoid pathway was limited by the flux to the precursor l-tyrosine.
Previously, we have reported the ability of thiamine (vitamin B1) to induce resistance against Plasmopara viticola in a susceptible grapevine cv. Chardonnay. However, mechanisms underlying vitamins, especially, thiamine-induced disease resistance in grapevine are still largely unknown. Here, we assessed whether thiamine could modulate phenylpropanoid pathway-derived phytoalexins in grapevine plants, as well as, the role of such secondary metabolites in thiamine-induced resistance process to P. viticola.
Our data show that thiamine treatment elicited the expression of phenylpropanoid pathway genes in grapevine plants. The expression of these genes correlated with an accumulation of stilbenes, phenolic compounds, flavonoids and lignin. Furthermore, the total anti-oxidant potential of thiamine-treaded plants was increased by 3.5-fold higher level as compared with untreated-control plants. Four phenolic compounds are responsible of 97% of the total anti-oxidant potential of thiamine-treated plants. Among these compounds, is the caftaric acid, belonging to the hydroxy-cinnamic acids family. This element contributed, by its own, by 20% of this total anti-oxidant potential. Epifluorescence microscopy analysis revealed a concomitant presence of unbranched-altered P. viticola mycelia and stilbenes production in the leaf mesophyll of thiamine-treated inoculated plants, suggesting that stilbenes are an important component of thiamine-induced resistance in grapevine.
This work is the first to show the role of thiamine, as a vitamin, in the modulation of grapevine plant secondary metabolism contributing to an enhanced resistance to P. viticola, the most destructive fungal disease in vineyards.
Thiamine; Plasmopara viticola; Stilbenes; Phenylpropanoid pathway genes; Lignin; Flavonoids; Grapevine; Induced resistance; Real-Time q-PCR; HPLC; UPLC-MS
The pioneering ancestor of land plants that conquered terrestrial habitats around 500 million years ago had to face dramatic stresses including UV radiation, desiccation, and microbial attack. This drove a number of adaptations, among which the emergence of the phenylpropanoid pathway was crucial, leading to essential compounds such as flavonoids and lignin. However, the origin of this specific land plant secondary metabolism has not been clarified.
We have performed an extensive analysis of the taxonomic distribution and phylogeny of Phenylalanine Ammonia Lyase (PAL), which catalyses the first and essential step of the general phenylpropanoid pathway, leading from phenylalanine to p-Coumaric acid and p-Coumaroyl-CoA, the entry points of the flavonoids and lignin routes. We obtained robust evidence that the ancestor of land plants acquired a PAL via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) during symbioses with soil bacteria and fungi that are known to have established very early during the first steps of land colonization. This horizontally acquired PAL represented then the basis for further development of the phenylpropanoid pathway and plant radiation on terrestrial environments.
Our results highlight a possible crucial role of HGT from soil bacteria in the path leading to land colonization by plants and their subsequent evolution. The few functional characterizations of sediment/soil bacterial PAL (production of secondary metabolites with powerful antimicrobial activity or production of pigments) suggest that the initial advantage of this horizontally acquired PAL in the ancestor of land plants might have been either defense against an already developed microbial community and/or protection against UV.
This article was reviewed by Purificación López-García, Janet Siefert, and Eugene Koonin.
The shikimate pathway provides carbon skeletons for the aromatic amino acids l-tryptophan, l-phenylalanine, and l-tyrosine. It is a high flux bearing pathway and it has been estimated that greater than 30% of all fixed carbon is directed through this pathway. These combined pathways have been subjected to considerable research attention due to the fact that mammals are unable to synthesize these amino acids and the fact that one of the enzymes of the shikimate pathway is a very effective herbicide target. However, in addition to these characteristics these pathways additionally provide important precursors for a wide range of important secondary metabolites including chlorogenic acid, alkaloids, glucosinolates, auxin, tannins, suberin, lignin and lignan, tocopherols, and betalains. Here we review the shikimate pathway of the green lineage and compare and contrast its evolution and ubiquity with that of the more specialized phenylpropanoid metabolism which this essential pathway fuels.
shikimate pathway; aromatic amino biosynthesis; evolution; gene copy number; gene duplication; plant secondary phenolic metabolite
Environmental stresses such as high light, low temperatures, pathogen infection and nutrient deficiency can lead to increased production of free radicals and other oxidative species in plants. A growing body of evidence suggests that plants respond to these biotic and abiotic stress factors by increasing their capacity to scavenge reactive oxygen species. Efforts to understand this acclimatory process have focused on the components of the 'classical' antioxidant system, i.e. superoxide dismutase, ascorbate peroxidase, catalase, monodehydroascorbate reductase, glutathione reductase and the low molecular weight antioxidants ascorbate and glutathione. However, relatively few studies have explored the role of secondary metabolic pathways in plant response to oxidative stress. A case in point is the phenylpropanoid pathway which is responsible for the synthesis of a diverse array of phenolic metabolites such as flavonoids, tannins, hydroxycinnamate esters and the structural polymer lignin. These compounds are often induced by stress and serve specific roles in plant protection, i.e. pathogen defence, ultraviolet screening, antiherbivory, or structural components of the cell wall. This review will highlight a novel antioxidant function for the taxonomically widespread phenylpropanoid metabolite chlorogenic acid (CGA; 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid) and assess its possible role in abiotic stress tolerance. The relationship between CGA biosynthesis and photosynthetic carbon metabolism will also be discussed. Based on the properties of this model phenolic metabolite, we propose that under stress conditions phenylpropanoid biosynthesis may represent an alternative pathway for photochemical energy dissipation that has the added benefit of enhancing the antioxidant capacity of the cell.
Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), Cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase (C4H) and 4-Coumarate: CoA ligase (4CL) catalyze the first three steps of the general phenylpropanoid pathway whereas chalcone synthase (CHS) catalyzes the first specific step towards flavonoids production. This class of specialized metabolites has a wide range of biological functions in plant development and defence and a broad spectrum of therapeutic activities for human health. In this study, we report the isolation of hemp PAL and 4CL cDNA and genomic clones. Through in silico analysis of their deduced amino acid sequences, more than an 80% identity with homologues genes of other plants was shown and phylogenetic relationships were highlighted. Quantitative expression analysis of the four above mentioned genes, PAL and 4CL enzymatic activities, lignin content and NMR metabolite fingerprinting in different Cannabis sativa tissues were evaluated. Furthermore, the use of different substrates to assay PAL and 4CL enzymatic activities indicated that different isoforms were active in different tissues. The diversity in secondary metabolites content observed in leaves (mainly flavonoids) and roots (mainly lignin) was discussed in relation to gene expression and enzymatic activities data.
Cannabis sativa; phenylalanine ammonia lyase; 4-Coumarate: CoA ligase; cinnamic acid 4-hydroxylase; chalcone synthase; phenylpropanoid; secondary metabolism; expression analysis; NMR metabolic profiling
• Background and Aims Caffeoylquinic acids are cinnamate conjugates derived from the phenylpropanoid pathway. They are generally involved in plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress and one of them, chlorogenic acid (5-O-caffeoylquinic acid, 5-CQA), is an intermediate in the lignin biosynthesis pathway. Caffeoylquinic acids, and particularly 5-CQA, are accumulated in coffee beans, where they can form vacuolar complexes with caffeine. Coffea canephora beans are known to have high caffeoylquinic acid content, but little is known about the content and diversity of these compounds in other plant parts. To gain new insights into the caffeoylquinic acid metabolism of C. canephora, caffeoylquinic acid content and in situ localization were assessed in leaves at different growth stages.
• Methods HPLC analyses of caffeoylquinic acid content of leaves was conducted in conjunction with detailed histochemical and microspectrofluorometrical analysis.
• Key Results and Conclusions HPLC analyses revealed that caffeoylquinic acid content was 10-fold lower in adult than in juvenile leaves. The most abundant cinnamate conjugate was 5-CQA, but dicaffeoylquinic acids (particularly in juvenile leaves) and feruloylquinic acids were also present. Using specific reagents, histochemical and microspectrofluorometrical analysis showed that caffeoylquinic acids (mono- and di-esters) were closely associated with chloroplasts in very young leaves. During leaf ageing, they were found to first accumulate intensively in specific chlorenchymatous bundle sheath cells and then in phloem sclerenchyma cells. The association with chloroplasts suggests that caffeoylquinic acids have a protective role against light damage. In older tissues, their presence in the leaf vascular system indicates that they are transported via phloem and confirms their involvement in lignification processes. In accordance with the hypothesis of a complex formation with caffeine, similar tissue distribution was observed for alkaloids and this is further discussed.
Coffea canephora; developing leaves; caffeoylquinic acids; alkaloids; histolocalization; microspectrofluorometry; high performance liquid chromatography
Flavonols, phenylalanine-derived secondary metabolites, have protective and regulatory functions in plants. In Arabidopsis thaliana, they are consecutively glycosylated at their 3-OH and 7-OH groups. UGT78D1 and UGT78D2 are the major flavonol 3-O-glycosyltransferases in Arabidopsis leaves. The ugt78d1 ugt78d2 double mutant, which was strongly compromised in the initial 3-O-glycosylation, showed a severe and specific repression of flavonol biosynthesis, retaining only one-third of the wild-type level. This metabolic phenotype was associated with a repressed transcription of several flavonol biosynthetic genes including the committed step chalcone synthase [(CHS) or TRANSPARENT TESTA 4 (TT4)]. Furthermore, the committed step of the upstream, general phenylpropanoid pathway, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL), was down-regulated in its enzyme activity and in the transcription of the flavonol-related PAL1 and PAL2. However, a complete blocking of flavonoid biosynthesis at CHS released PAL inhibition in a tt4 ugt78d1 ugt78d2 line. PAL activity was even enhanced in the flavonol synthase 1 mutant, which compromises the final formation of flavonol aglycones. The dependence of the PAL feedback inhibition on flavonols was confirmed by chemical complementation of tt4 ugt78d1 ugt78d2 using naringenin, a downstream flavonoid intermediate, which restored the PAL repression. Although aglycones were not analytically detectable, this study provides genetic evidence for a novel, flavonol-dependent feedback inhibition of the flavonol biosynthetic pathway and PAL. It was conditioned by the compromised flavonol-3-O-conjugation and a decrease in flavonol content, yet dependent on a residual, flavonol synthase 1 (FLS1)-related capacity to form flavonol aglycones. Thus, this regulation would not react to a reduced metabolic flux into flavonol biosynthesis, but it might prevent the accumulation of non-glycosylated, toxic flavonols.
Feedback inhibition; flavonoids; flavonols; flavonol synthase; phenylalanine ammonia-lyase; phenylpropanoids; UDP-carbohydrate-dependent glycosyltransferase
Plant stilbenes are a small group of phenylpropanoids, which have been detected in at least 72 unrelated plant species and accumulate in response to biotic and abiotic stresses such as infection, wounding, UV-C exposure and treatment with chemicals. Stilbenes are formed via the phenylalanine/polymalonate-route, the last step of which is catalyzed by the enzyme stilbene synthase (STS), a type III polyketide synthase (PKS). Stilbene synthases are closely related to chalcone synthases (CHS), the key enzymes of the flavonoid pathway, as illustrated by the fact that both enzymes share the same substrates. To date, STSs have been cloned from peanut, pine, sorghum and grapevine, the only stilbene-producing fruiting-plant for which the entire genome has been sequenced. Apart from sorghum, STS genes appear to exist as a family of closely related genes in these other plant species.
In this study a complete characterization of the STS multigenic family in grapevine has been performed, commencing with the identification, annotation and phylogenetic analysis of all members and integration of this information with a comprehensive set of gene expression analyses including healthy tissues at differential developmental stages and in leaves exposed to both biotic (downy mildew infection) and abiotic (wounding and UV-C exposure) stresses. At least thirty-three full length sequences encoding VvSTS genes were identified, which, based on predicted amino acid sequences, cluster in 3 principal groups designated A, B and C. The majority of VvSTS genes cluster in groups B and C and are located on chr16 whereas the few gene family members in group A are found on chr10. Microarray and mRNA-seq expression analyses revealed different patterns of transcript accumulation between the different groups of VvSTS family members and between VvSTSs and VvCHSs. Indeed, under certain conditions the transcriptional response of VvSTS and VvCHS genes appears to be diametrically opposed suggesting that flow of carbon between these two competing metabolic pathways is tightly regulated at the transcriptional level.
This study represents an overview of the expression pattern of each member of the STS gene family in grapevine under both constitutive and stress-induced conditions. The results strongly indicate the existence of a transcriptional subfunctionalization amongst VvSTSs and provide the foundation for further functional investigations about the role and evolution of this large gene family. Moreover, it represents the first study to clearly show the differential regulation of VvCHS and VvSTS genes, suggesting the involvement of transcription factors (TFs) in both the activation and repression of these genes.
Stilbene synthase; Chalcone synthase; Abiotic stress; Downy mildew; Grapevine
The secondary metabolites of higher plants include diverse chemicals, such as alkaloids, isoprenoids and phenolic compounds (phenylpropanoids and flavonoids). Although these compounds are widely used in human health and nutrition, at present they are mainly obtained by extraction from plants and extraction yields are low because most of these metabolites accumulate at low levels in plant cells. Recent advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering have enabled tailored production of plant secondary metabolites in microorganisms, but these methods often require the addition of expensive substrates. Here we develop an Escherichia coli fermentation system that yields plant alkaloids from simple carbon sources, using selected enzymes to construct a tailor-made biosynthetic pathway. In this system, engineered cells cultured in growth medium without additional substrates produce the plant benzylisoquinoline alkaloid, (S)-reticuline (yield, 46.0 mg l−1 culture medium). The fermentation platform described here offers opportunities for low-cost production of many diverse alkaloids.
Secondary metabolites are widely used in human health and nutrition, but extraction yields from plants are often low. Nakagawa et al. have engineered the metabolism of Escherichia coli to develop a fermentation system that produces plant alkaloids from simple carbon sources.
Reports of plant molecular responses to pathogenic infections have pinpointed increases in activity of several genes of the phenylpropanoid pathway leading to the synthesis of lignin and flavonoids. The majority of those findings were derived from single gene studies and more recently from several global gene expression analyses. We undertook a global transcriptional analysis focused on the response of genes of the multiple branches of the phenylpropanoid pathway to infection by the Pseudomonas syringae pv. glycinea with or without the avirulence gene avrB to characterize more broadly the contribution of the multiple branches of the pathway to the resistance response in soybean. Transcript abundance in leaves was determined from analysis of soybean cDNA microarray data and hybridizations to RNA blots with specific gene probes.
The majority of the genes surveyed presented patterns of increased transcript accumulation. Some increased rapidly, 2 and 4 hours after inoculation, while others started to accumulate slowly by 8 – 12 hours. In contrast, transcripts of a few genes decreased in abundance 2 hours post inoculation. Most interestingly was the opposite temporal fluctuation in transcript abundance between early responsive genes in defense (CHS and IFS1) and F3H, the gene encoding a pivotal enzyme in the synthesis of anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and flavonols. F3H transcripts decreased rapidly 2 hours post inoculation and increased during periods when CHS and IFS transcripts decreased. It was also determined that all but one (CHS4) family member genes (CHS1, CHS2, CHS3, CHS5, CHS6 and CHS7/8) accumulated higher transcript levels during the defense response provoked by the avirulent pathogen challenge.
Based on the mRNA profiles, these results show the strong bias that soybean has towards increasing the synthesis of isoflavonoid phytoalexins concomitant with the down regulation of genes required for the synthesis of anthocyanins and proanthocyanins. Although proanthocyanins are known to be toxic compounds, the cells in the soybean leaves seem to be programmed to prioritize the synthesis and accumulation of isoflavonoid and pterocarpan phytoalexins during the resistance response. It was known that CHS transcripts accumulate in great abundance rapidly after inoculation of the soybean plants but our results have demonstrated that all but one (CHS4) member of the gene family member genes accumulated higher transcript levels during the defense response.
Flavonoids are a group of secondary metabolites derived from the phenylpropanoid pathway. They are ubiquitous in the plant kingdom and have many diverse functions including key roles at different levels of root endosymbioses. While there is a lot of information on the role of particular flavonoids in the Rhizobium-legume symbiosis, yet their exact role during the establishment of arbuscular mycorrhiza and actinorhizal symbioses still remains unclear. Within the context of the latest data suggesting a common symbiotic signaling pathway for both plant-fungal and plant bacterial endosymbioses between legumes and actinorhiza-forming fagales, this mini-review highlights some of the recent studies on the three major types of root endosymbioses. Implication of the molecular knowledge of endosymbioses signaling and genetic manipulation of flavonoid biosynthetic pathway on the development of strategies for the transfer and optimization of nodulation are also discussed.
actinorhizal symbioses; arbuscular mycorrhiza; endosymbiosis; flavonoids; legume-rhizobium symbioses; signaling
4-Coumarate:coenzyme A ligase (4CL) plays a key role in phenylpropanoid metabolism, providing precursors for a large variety of important plant secondary metabolites, such as lignin, flavonoids, and phytoalexins. Although 4CLs have been believed to be specific to plants, a gene encoding a 4CL-like enzyme which shows more than 40% identity in amino acid sequence to plant 4CLs was found in the genome of the gram-positive, filamentous bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). The recombinant enzyme, produced in Escherichia coli with a histidine tag at its N-terminal end, showed distinct 4CL activity. The optimum pH and temperature of the reaction were pH 8.0 and 30°C, respectively. The Km value for 4-coumarate and kcat were determined as 131 ± 4 μM and 0.202 ± 0.007 s−1, respectively. The Km value was comparable to those of plant 4CLs. The substrate specificity of this enzyme was, however, distinctly different from those of plant 4CLs. The enzyme efficiently converted cinnamate (Km, 190 ± 2 μM; kcat, 0.475 ± 0.012 s−1), which is a very poor substrate for plant 4CLs. Furthermore, the enzyme showed only low activity toward caffeate and no activity toward ferulate, both of which are generally good substrates for plant 4CLs. The enzyme was therefore named ScCCL for S. coelicolor A3(2) cinnamate CoA ligase. To determine the amino acid residues providing the unique substrate specificity of ScCCL, eight ScCCL mutant enzymes having a mutation(s) at amino acid residues that probably line up along the substrate-binding pocket were generated. Mutant A294G used caffeate as a substrate more efficiently than ScCCL, and mutant A294G/A318G used ferulate, which ScCCL could not use as a substrate, suggesting that Ala294 and Ala318 are involved in substrate recognition. Furthermore, the catalytic activities of A294G and A294G/A318G toward cinnamate and 4-coumarate were greatly enhanced compared with those of the wild-type enzyme.
Geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP) and p-hydroxybenzoate (PHB) are the basic precursors involved in shikonins biosynthesis. GPP is derived from mevalonate (MVA) and/or 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway(s), depending upon the metabolite and the plant system under consideration. PHB, however, is synthesized by only phenylpropanoid (PP) pathway. GPP and PHB are central moieties to yield shikonins through the synthesis of m-geranyl-p-hydroxybenzoate (GHB). Enzyme p-hydroxybenzoate-m-geranyltransferase (PGT) catalyses the coupling of GPP and PHB to yield GHB.
The present research was carried out in shikonins yielding plant arnebia [Arnebia euchroma (Royle) Johnston], wherein no molecular work has been reported so far. The objective of the work was to identify the preferred GPP synthesizing pathway for shikonins biosynthesis, and to determine the regulatory genes involved in the biosynthesis of GPP, PHB and GHB.
A cell suspension culture-based, low and high shikonins production systems were developed to facilitate pathway identification and finding the regulatory gene. Studies with mevinolin and fosmidomycin, inhibitors of MVA and MEP pathway, respectively suggested MVA as a preferred route of GPP supply for shikonins biosynthesis in arnebia. Accordingly, genes of MVA pathway (eight genes), PP pathway (three genes), and GHB biosynthesis were cloned. Expression studies showed down-regulation of all the genes in response to mevinolin treatment, whereas gene expression was not influenced by fosmidomycin. Expression of all the twelve genes vis-à-vis shikonins content in low and high shikonins production system, over a period of twelve days at frequent intervals, identified critical genes of shikonins biosynthesis in arnebia.
A positive correlation between shikonins content and expression of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (AeHMGR) and AePGT suggested critical role played by these genes in shikonins biosynthesis. Higher expression of genes of PP pathway was a general feature for higher shikonins biosynthesis.
Flavonoids are synthesized by phenylpropanoid pathway. They are known to participate in large number of physiological and biochemical processes in plants. Parthenocarpy and male sterility has earlier been reported by silencing chalcone synthase (CHS) encoding gene. Silencing of CHS has blocked the synthesis of most of useful flavonoids including flavan-3-ols and flavonols. Also, these studies could not identify whether parthenocarpy/male sterility were due to lack of flavan-3-ols or flavonols or both. Flavonol synthase (FLS) is an important enzyme of flavonoid pathway that catalyzes the formation of flavonols. In this article, we propose a novel strategy towards the generation of seedless or less-seeded fruits by downregulation of flavonol biosynthesis in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv Xanthi) through post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) of FLS encoding mRNA. The FLS silenced lines were observed for 20-80% reduction in FLS encoding gene expression and 25–93% reduction in flavonol (quercetin) content. Interestingly, these FLS silenced tobacco lines also showed reduction in their anthocyanidins content. While the content of flavan-3-ols (catechin, epi-catechin and epi-gallocatechin) was found to be increased in FLS silenced lines. The delayed flowering in FLS silenced lines could be due to decrease in level of indole acetic acid (IAA) at apical region of their shoots. Furthermore, the pollen germination was hampered and pollens were unable to produce functional pollen tube in FLS silenced tobacco lines. Pods of FLS silenced lines contained significantly less number of seeds. The in vitro and in vivo studies where 1 µM quercetin was supplied to germination media, documented the restoration of normal pollen germination and pollen tube growth. This finding identified the role of flavonols particularly quercetin in pollen germination as well as in the regulation of plant fertility. Results also suggest a novel approach towards generation of seedless/less-seeded fruits via PTGS of FLS encoding gene in plants.
Resistance in plants to pathogen attack can be qualitative or quantitative. For the latter, hundreds of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) have been identified, but the mechanisms of resistance are largely unknown. Integrated non-target metabolomics and proteomics, using high resolution hybrid mass spectrometry, were applied to identify the mechanisms of resistance governed by the fusarium head blight resistance locus, Fhb1, in the near isogenic lines derived from wheat genotype Nyubai.
The metabolomic and proteomic profiles were compared between the near isogenic lines (NIL) with resistant and susceptible alleles of Fhb1 upon F. graminearum or mock-inoculation. The resistance-related metabolites and proteins identified were mapped to metabolic pathways. Metabolites of the shunt phenylpropanoid pathway such as hydroxycinnamic acid amides, phenolic glucosides and flavonoids were induced only in the resistant NIL, or induced at higher abundances in resistant than in susceptible NIL, following pathogen inoculation. The identities of these metabolites were confirmed, with fragmentation patterns, using the high resolution LC-LTQ-Orbitrap. Concurrently, the enzymes of phenylpropanoid biosynthesis such as cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase, caffeoyl-CoA O-methyltransferase, caffeic acid O-methyltransferase, flavonoid O-methyltransferase, agmatine coumaroyltransferase and peroxidase were also up-regulated. Increased cell wall thickening due to deposition of hydroxycinnamic acid amides and flavonoids was confirmed by histo-chemical localization of the metabolites using confocal microscopy.
The present study demonstrates that the resistance in Fhb1 derived from the wheat genotype Nyubai is mainly associated with cell wall thickening due to deposition of hydroxycinnamic acid amides, phenolic glucosides and flavonoids, but not with the conversion of deoxynivalenol to less toxic deoxynivalenol 3-O-glucoside.
L-Phenylalanine is one of the essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized in mammals in adequate amounts to meet the requirements for protein synthesis. Fungi and plants are able to synthesize phenylalanine via the shikimic acid pathway. L-Phenylalanine, derived from the shikimic acid pathway, is used directly for protein synthesis in plants or metabolized through the phenylpropanoid pathway. This phenylpropanoid metabolism leads to the biosynthesis of a wide array of phenylpropanoid secondary products. The first step in this metabolic sequence involves the action of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL). The discovery of PAL enzyme in fungi and the detection of 14CO2 production from 14C-ring-labeled phenylalanine and cinnamic acid demonstrated that certain fungi can degrade phenylalanine by a pathway involving an initial deamination to cinnamic acid, as happens in plants. In this review, we provide background information on PAL and a recent update on the presence of PAL genes in fungi.
Fungi; Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase; Plant
Flavones are plant secondary metabolites that have wide pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications. We previously constructed a recombinant flavanone pathway by expressing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae a four-step recombinant pathway that consists of cinnamate-4 hydroxylase, 4-coumaroyl:coenzyme A ligase, chalcone synthase, and chalcone isomerase. In the present work, the biosynthesis of flavones by two distinct flavone synthases was evaluated by introducing a soluble flavone synthase I (FSI) and a membrane-bound flavone synthase II (FSII) into the flavanone-producing recombinant yeast strain. The resulting recombinant strains were able to convert various phenylpropanoid acid precursors into the flavone molecules chrysin, apigenin, and luteolin, and the intermediate flavanones pinocembrin, naringenin, and eriodictyol accumulated in the medium. Improvement of flavone biosynthesis was achieved by overexpressing the yeast P450 reductase CPR1 in the FSII-expressing recombinant strain and by using acetate rather than glucose or raffinose as the carbon source. Overall, the FSI-expressing recombinant strain produced 50% more apigenin and six times less naringenin than the FSII-expressing recombinant strain when p-coumaric acid was used as a precursor phenylpropanoid acid. Further experiments indicated that unlike luteolin, the 5,7,4′-trihydroxyflavone apigenin inhibits flavanone biosynthesis in vivo in a nonlinear, dose-dependent manner.
Legumes contain a variety of phytochemicals derived from the phenylpropanoid pathway that have important effects on human health as well as seed coat color, plant disease resistance and nodulation. However, the information about the genes involved in this important pathway is fragmentary in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). The objectives of this research were to isolate genes that function in and control the phenylpropanoid pathway in common bean, determine their genomic locations in silico in common bean and soybean, and analyze sequences of the 4CL gene family in two common bean genotypes. Sequences of phenylpropanoid pathway genes available for common bean or other plant species were aligned, and the conserved regions were used to design sequence-specific primers. The PCR products were cloned and sequenced and the gene sequences along with common bean gene-based (g) markers were BLASTed against the Glycine max v.1.0 genome and the P. vulgaris v.1.0 (Andean) early release genome. In addition, gene sequences were BLASTed against the OAC Rex (Mesoamerican) genome sequence assembly. In total, fragments of 46 structural and regulatory phenylpropanoid pathway genes were characterized in this way and placed in silico on common bean and soybean sequence maps. The maps contain over 250 common bean g and SSR (simple sequence repeat) markers and identify the positions of more than 60 additional phenylpropanoid pathway gene sequences, plus the putative locations of seed coat color genes. The majority of cloned phenylpropanoid pathway gene sequences were mapped to one location in the common bean genome but had two positions in soybean. The comparison of the genomic maps confirmed previous studies, which show that common bean and soybean share genomic regions, including those containing phenylpropanoid pathway gene sequences, with conserved synteny. Indels identified in the comparison of Andean and Mesoamerican common bean 4CL gene sequences might be used to develop inter-pool phenylpropanoid pathway gene-based markers. We anticipate that the information obtained by this study will simplify and accelerate selections of common bean with specific phenylpropanoid pathway alleles to increase the contents of beneficial phenylpropanoids in common bean and other legumes.
common bean; soybean; phenylpropanoid pathway; genome sequence; in silico map; comparative mapping
Jasmonates (JAs) control many aspects of plant defense and development, for instance by inhibiting growth and eliciting secondary metabolism. The mechanisms by which JAs regulate these processes are currently under intensive investigation. Examination of transcriptional changes upon methyl jasmonate (MeJA) perception in a fast-growing Arabidopsis thaliana cell suspension culture revealed a quick and direct dual effect of JAs on the plant's cellular processes. Simultaneously, JA-elicited Arabidopsis cells activated phenylpropanoid metabolism and repressed cell cycle progression. Early JA response genes were predominantly implicated in transcriptional regulation and JA biosynthesis. In two parallel screens, we identified both early responsive transcriptional activators (ORA47 and MYC2) and transcriptional repressors (STZ/ZAT10 and AZF2) that putatively regulate the expression of the JA biosynthesis gene LOX3. In this addendum, we provide additional data demonstrating that MYC2, STZ/ZAT10 and AZF2 might also control the expression of JAZ1/TIFY10a that encodes a key repressor in the JA signaling cascade.
jasmonate; transcriptional regulation; JAZ; TIFY; MYC2; C2H2 zinc fingers; lipoxygenase
Plant secondary metabolites, including phenylpropanoids and carotenoids, are stress inducible, have important roles in potato physiology and influence the nutritional value of potatoes. The type and magnitude of environmental effects on tuber phytonutrients is unclear, especially under modern agricultural management that minimizes stress. Understanding factors that influence tuber secondary metabolism could facilitate production of more nutritious crops. Metabolite pools of over forty tuber phenylpropanoids and carotenoids, along with the expression of twenty structural genes, were measured in high-phenylpropanoid purple potatoes grown in environmentally diverse locations in North America (Alaska, Texas and Florida).
Phenylpropanoids, including chlorogenic acid (CGA), were higher in samples from the northern latitudes, as was the expression of phenylpropanoid genes including phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), which had over a ten-fold difference in relative abundance. Phenylpropanoid gene expression appeared coordinately regulated and was well correlated with metabolite pools, except for hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:quinatehydroxcinnamoyl transferase (HQT; r = -0.24). In silico promoter analysis identified two cis-acting elements in the HQT promoter not found in the other phenylpropanoid genes. Anthocyanins were more abundant in Alaskan samples and correlated with flavonoid genes including DFR (r = 0.91), UFGT (r = 0.94) and F3H (r = 0.77). The most abundant anthocyanin was petunidin-3-coum-rutinoside-5-glu, which ranged from 4.7 mg g-1 in Alaska to 2.3 mg g-1 in Texas. Positive correlations between tuber sucrose and anthocyanins (r = 0.85), suggested a stimulatory effect of sucrose. Smaller variation was observed in total carotenoids, but marked differences occurred in individual carotenoids, which had over a ten-fold range. Violaxanthin, lutein or zeaxanthin were the predominant carotenoids in tubers from Alaska, Texas and Florida respectively. Unlike in the phenylpropanoid pathway, poor correlations occurred between carotenoid transcripts and metabolites.
Analysis of tuber secondary metabolism showed interesting relationships among different metabolites in response to collective environmental influences, even under conditions that minimize stress. The variation in metabolites shows the considerable phenotypical plasticity possible with tuber secondary metabolism and raises questions about to what extent these pathways can be stimulated by environmental cues in a manner that optimizes tuber phytonutrient content while protecting yields. The differences in secondary metabolites may be sufficient to affect nutritional quality.
phenolics; chlorogenic acid; anthocyanins; carotenoids; gene expression; PAL; antioxidants; potatoes; sucrose; promoters.