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1.  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.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-152
PMCID: PMC3493272  PMID: 22931486
2.  Impact of Temporary Nitrogen Deprivation on Tomato Leaf Phenolics 
Reducing the use of pesticides represents a major challenge of modern agriculture. Plants synthesize secondary metabolites such as polyphenols that participate in the resistance to parasites. The aim of this study was to test: (1) the impact of nitrogen deficiency on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) leaf composition and more particularly on two phenolic molecules (chlorogenic acid and rutin) as well as on the general plant biomass; and (2) whether this effect continued after a return to normal nitrogen nutrition. Our results showed that plants deprived of nitrogen for 10 or 19 days contained higher levels of chlorogenic acid and rutin than control plants. In addition, this difference persisted when the plants were once again cultivated on a nitrogen-rich medium. These findings offer interesting perspectives on the use of a short period of deprivation to modulate the levels of compounds of interest in a plant.
doi:10.3390/ijms12117971
PMCID: PMC3233450  PMID: 22174644
chlorogenic acid; rutin; nitrogen deprivation; phenolic compound; tomato
3.  Identification and characterisation of CYP75A31, a new flavonoid 3'5'-hydroxylase, isolated from Solanum lycopersicum 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:21.
Background
Understanding the regulation of the flavonoid pathway is important for maximising the nutritional value of crop plants and possibly enhancing their resistance towards pathogens. The flavonoid 3'5'-hydroxylase (F3'5'H) enzyme functions at an important branch point between flavonol and anthocyanin synthesis, as is evident from studies in petunia (Petunia hybrida), and potato (Solanum tuberosum). The present work involves the identification and characterisation of a F3'5'H gene from tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), and the examination of its putative role in flavonoid metabolism.
Results
The cloned and sequenced tomato F3'5'H gene was named CYP75A31. The gene was inserted into the pYeDP60 expression vector and the corresponding protein produced in yeast for functional characterisation. Several putative substrates for F3'5'H were tested in vitro using enzyme assays on microsome preparations. The results showed that two hydroxylation steps occurred. Expression of the CYP75A31 gene was also tested in vivo, in various parts of the vegetative tomato plant, along with other key genes of the flavonoid pathway using real-time PCR. A clear response to nitrogen depletion was shown for CYP75A31 and all other genes tested. The content of rutin and kaempferol-3-rutinoside was found to increase as a response to nitrogen depletion in most parts of the plant, however the growth conditions used in this study did not lead to accumulation of anthocyanins.
Conclusions
CYP75A31 (NCBI accession number GQ904194), encodes a flavonoid 3'5'-hydroxylase, which accepts flavones, flavanones, dihydroflavonols and flavonols as substrates. The expression of the CYP75A31 gene was found to increase in response to nitrogen deprivation, in accordance with other genes in the phenylpropanoid pathway, as expected for a gene involved in flavonoid metabolism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-21
PMCID: PMC2825239  PMID: 20128892
4.  The isolation and mapping of a novel hydroxycinnamoyltransferase in the globe artichoke chlorogenic acid pathway 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:30.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-30
PMCID: PMC2664813  PMID: 19292932
5.  Isolation and functional characterization of a cDNA coding a hydroxycinnamoyltransferase involved in phenylpropanoid biosynthesis in Cynara cardunculus L 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:14.
Background
Cynara cardunculus L. is an edible plant of pharmaceutical interest, in particular with respect to the polyphenolic content of its leaves. It includes three taxa: globe artichoke, cultivated cardoon, and wild cardoon. The dominating phenolics are the di-caffeoylquinic acids (such as cynarin), which are largely restricted to Cynara species, along with their precursor, chlorogenic acid (CGA). The scope of this study is to better understand CGA synthesis in this plant.
Results
A gene sequence encoding a hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (HCT) involved in the synthesis of CGA, was identified. Isolation of the gene sequence was achieved by using a PCR strategy with degenerated primers targeted to conserved regions of orthologous HCT sequences available. We have isolated a 717 bp cDNA which shares 84% aminoacid identity and 92% similarity with a tobacco gene responsible for the biosynthesis of CGA from p-coumaroyl-CoA and quinic acid. In silico studies revealed the globe artichoke HCT sequence clustering with one of the main acyltransferase groups (i.e. anthranilate N-hydroxycinnamoyl/benzoyltransferase). Heterologous expression of the full length HCT (GenBank accession DQ104740) cDNA in E. coli demonstrated that the recombinant enzyme efficiently synthesizes both chlorogenic acid and p-coumaroyl quinate from quinic acid and caffeoyl-CoA or p-coumaroyl-CoA, respectively, confirming its identity as a hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA: quinate HCT. Variable levels of HCT expression were shown among wild and cultivated forms of C. cardunculus subspecies. The level of expression was correlated with CGA content.
Conclusion
The data support the predicted involvement of the Cynara cardunculus HCT in the biosynthesis of CGA before and/or after the hydroxylation step of hydroxycinnamoyl esters.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-7-14
PMCID: PMC1847684  PMID: 17374149

Results 1-5 (5)