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1.  Characterization of a second secologanin synthase isoform producing both secologanin and secoxyloganin allows enhanced de novo assembly of a Catharanthus roseus transcriptome 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):619.
Transcriptome sequencing offers a great resource for the study of non-model plants such as Catharanthus roseus, which produces valuable monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIAs) via a complex biosynthetic pathway whose characterization is still undergoing. Transcriptome databases dedicated to this plant were recently developed by several consortia to uncover new biosynthetic genes. However, the identification of missing steps in MIA biosynthesis based on these large datasets may be limited by the erroneous assembly of close transcripts and isoforms, even with the multiple available transcriptomes.
Secologanin synthases (SLS) are P450 enzymes that catalyze an unusual ring-opening reaction of loganin in the biosynthesis of the MIA precursor secologanin. We report here the identification and characterization in C. roseus of a new isoform of SLS, SLS2, sharing 97 % nucleotide sequence identity with the previously characterized SLS1. We also discovered that both isoforms further oxidize secologanin into secoxyloganin. SLS2 had however a different expression profile, being the major isoform in aerial organs that constitute the main site of MIA accumulation. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a current C. roseus transcriptome database containing simultaneously well reconstructed sequences of SLS isoforms and accurate expression levels. After a pair of close mRNA encoding tabersonine 16-hydroxylase (T16H1 and T16H2), this is the second example of improperly assembled transcripts from the MIA pathway in the public transcriptome databases. To construct a more complete transcriptome resource for C. roseus, we re-processed previously published transcriptome data by combining new single assemblies. Care was particularly taken during clustering and filtering steps to remove redundant contigs but not transcripts encoding potential isoforms by monitoring quality reconstruction of MIA genes and specific SLS and T16H isoforms. The new consensus transcriptome allowed a precise estimation of abundance of SLS and T16H isoforms, similar to qPCR measurements.
The C. roseus consensus transcriptome can now be used for characterization of new genes of the MIA pathway. Furthermore, additional isoforms of genes encoding distinct MIA biosynthetic enzymes isoforms could be predicted suggesting the existence of a higher level of complexity in the synthesis of MIA, raising the question of the evolutionary events behind what seems like redundancy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1678-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4541752  PMID: 26285573
Catharanthus roseus; Transcriptome assembly; Isoform; Secologanin synthase; Secoxyloganin
2.  Unlocking the Diversity of Alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus: Nuclear Localization Suggests Metabolic Channeling in Secondary Metabolism 
Chemistry & Biology  2015;22(3):336-341.
The extraordinary chemical diversity of the plant-derived monoterpene indole alkaloids, which include vinblastine, quinine, and strychnine, originates from a single biosynthetic intermediate, strictosidine aglycone. Here we report for the first time the cloning of a biosynthetic gene and characterization of the corresponding enzyme that acts at this crucial branchpoint. This enzyme, an alcohol dehydrogenase homolog, converts strictosidine aglycone to the heteroyohimbine-type alkaloid tetrahydroalstonine. We also demonstrate how this enzyme, which uses a highly reactive substrate, may interact with the upstream enzyme of the pathway.
Graphical Abstract
•Tetrahydroalstonine synthase catalyzes the formation of a plant-derived alkaloid•Tetrahydroalstonine synthase is localized to the nucleus•Tetrahydroalstonine synthase and the preceding pathway enzyme interact•Discovery of a gene controlling structural diversity of monoterpene indole alkaloids
How plants transform the central biosynthetic intermediate strictosidine into thousands of divergent alkaloids has remained unresolved. Stavrinides et al. discover a nuclear-localized alcohol dehydrogenase homolog responsible for conversion of strictosidine aglycone to tetrahydroalstonine that appears to interact with an upstream pathway enzyme.
PMCID: PMC4372254  PMID: 25772467
3.  Illuminating Fungal Infections with Bioluminescence 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(7):e1004179.
PMCID: PMC4092138  PMID: 25010008
5.  Triple subcellular targeting of isopentenyl diphosphate isomerases encoded by a single gene 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2012;7(11):1495-1497.
Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase (IDI) is a key enzyme of the isoprenoid pathway, catalyzing the interconversion of isopentenyl diphosphate and dimethylallyl diphosphate, the universal precursors of all isoprenoids. In plants, several subcellular compartments, including cytosol/ER, peroxisomes, mitochondria and plastids, are involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis. Here, we report on the unique triple targeting of two Catharanthus roseus IDI isoforms encoded by a single gene (CrIDI1). The triple localization of CrIDI1 in mitochondria, plastids and peroxisomes is explained by alternative transcription initiation of CrIDI1, by the specificity of a bifunctional N-terminal mitochondria/plastid transit peptide and by the presence of a C-terminal peroxisomal targeting signal. Moreover, bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays revealed self-interactions suggesting that the IDI likely acts as a multimer in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3548878  PMID: 22951398
isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase; isoprenoid; alkaloid; triple targeting; subcellular localization; Catharanthus roseus
6.  Identification of five B-type response regulators as members of a multistep phosphorelay system interacting with histidine-containing phosphotransfer partners of Populus osmosensor 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:241.
In plants, the multistep phosphorelay signaling pathway mediates responses to environmental factors and plant hormones. This system is composed of three successive partners: hybrid Histidine-aspartate Kinases (HKs), Histidine-containing Phosphotransfer proteins (HPts), and Response Regulators (RRs). Among the third partners, B-type RR family members are the final output elements of the pathway; they act as transcription factors and clearly play a pivotal role in the early response to cytokinin in Arabidopsis. While interactions studies between partners belonging to the multistep phosphorelay system are mainly focused on protagonists involved in cytokinin or ethylene pathways, very few reports are available concerning partners of osmotic stress signaling pathway.
In Populus, we identified eight B-type RR proteins, RR12-16, 19, 21 and 22 in the Dorskamp genotype. To assess HPt/B-type RR interactions and consequently determine potential third partners in the osmosensing multistep phosphorelay system, we performed global yeast two-hybrid (Y2H) assays in combination with Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation (BiFC) assays in plant cells. We found that all B-type RRs are able to interact with HPt predominant partners (HPt2, 7 and 9) of HK1, which is putatively involved in the osmosensing pathway. However, different profiles of interaction are observed depending on the studied HPt. HPt/RR interactions displayed a nuclear localization, while the nuclear and cytosolic localization of HPt and nuclear localization of RR proteins were validated. Although the nuclear localization of HPt/RR interaction was expected, this work constitutes the first evidence of such an interaction in plants. Furthermore, the pertinence of this partnership is reinforced by highlighting a co-expression of B-type RR transcripts and the other partners (HK1 and HPts) belonging to a potential osmosensing pathway.
Based on the interaction studies between identified B-type RR and HPt proteins, and the co-expression analysis of transcripts of these potential partners in poplar organs, our results favor the model that RR12, 13, 14, 16 and 19 are able to interact with the main partners of HK1, HPt2, 7 and 9, and this HPt/RR interaction occurs within the nucleus. On the whole, the five B-type RRs of interest could be third protagonists putatively involved in the osmosensing signaling pathway in Populus.
PMCID: PMC3562281  PMID: 23253553
Response Regulator (RR); Histidine-containing Phosphotransfer protein (HPt); Osmosensing pathway; Populus
7.  Subcellular evidence for the involvement of peroxisomes in plant isoprenoid biosynthesis 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(12):2044-2046.
The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.
PMCID: PMC3337203  PMID: 22080790
5-phosphomevalonate kinase; Arabidopsis thaliana; Catharanthus roseus; farnesyl diphosphate synthase; isoprenoid; mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase; mevalonic acid pathway; peroxisome
8.  Strictosidine activation in Apocynaceae: towards a "nuclear time bomb"? 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:182.
The first two enzymatic steps of monoterpene indole alkaloid (MIA) biosynthetic pathway are catalysed by strictosidine synthase (STR) that condensates tryptamine and secologanin to form strictosidine and by strictosidine β-D-glucosidase (SGD) that subsequently hydrolyses the glucose moiety of strictosidine. The resulting unstable aglycon is rapidly converted into a highly reactive dialdehyde, from which more than 2,000 MIAs are derived. Many studies were conducted to elucidate the biosynthesis and regulation of pharmacologically valuable MIAs such as vinblastine and vincristine in Catharanthus roseus or ajmaline in Rauvolfia serpentina. However, very few reports focused on the MIA physiological functions.
In this study we showed that a strictosidine pool existed in planta and that the strictosidine deglucosylation product(s) was (were) specifically responsible for in vitro protein cross-linking and precipitation suggesting a potential role for strictosidine activation in plant defence. The spatial feasibility of such an activation process was evaluated in planta. On the one hand, in situ hybridisation studies showed that CrSTR and CrSGD were coexpressed in the epidermal first barrier of C. roseus aerial organs. However, a combination of GFP-imaging, bimolecular fluorescence complementation and electromobility shift-zymogram experiments revealed that STR from both C. roseus and R. serpentina were localised to the vacuole whereas SGD from both species were shown to accumulate as highly stable supramolecular aggregates within the nucleus. Deletion and fusion studies allowed us to identify and to demonstrate the functionality of CrSTR and CrSGD targeting sequences.
A spatial model was drawn to explain the role of the subcellular sequestration of STR and SGD to control the MIA metabolic flux under normal physiological conditions. The model also illustrates the possible mechanism of massive activation of the strictosidine vacuolar pool upon enzyme-substrate reunion occurring during potential herbivore feeding constituting a so-called "nuclear time bomb" in reference to the "mustard oil bomb" commonly used to describe the myrosinase-glucosinolate defence system in Brassicaceae.
PMCID: PMC3095312  PMID: 20723215

Results 1-8 (8)