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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.  Cytochromes P450 
There are 244 cytochrome P450 genes (and 28 pseudogenes) in the Arabidopsis genome. P450s thus form one of the largest gene families in plants. Contrary to what was initially thought, this family diversification results in very limited functional redundancy and seems to mirror the complexity of plant metabolism. P450s sometimes share less than 20% identity and catalyze extremely diverse reactions leading to the precursors of structural macromolecules such as lignin, cutin, suberin and sporopollenin, or are involved in biosynthesis or catabolism of all hormone and signaling molecules, of pigments, odorants, flavors, antioxidants, allelochemicals and defense compounds, and in the metabolism of xenobiotics. The mechanisms of gene duplication and diversification are getting better understood and together with co-expression data provide leads to functional characterization.
doi:10.1199/tab.0144
PMCID: PMC3268508  PMID: 22303269
3.  An extensive (co-)expression analysis tool for the cytochrome P450 superfamily in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:47.
Background
Sequencing of the first plant genomes has revealed that cytochromes P450 have evolved to become the largest family of enzymes in secondary metabolism. The proportion of P450 enzymes with characterized biochemical function(s) is however very small. If P450 diversification mirrors evolution of chemical diversity, this points to an unexpectedly poor understanding of plant metabolism. We assumed that extensive analysis of gene expression might guide towards the function of P450 enzymes, and highlight overlooked aspects of plant metabolism.
Results
We have created a comprehensive database, 'CYPedia', describing P450 gene expression in four data sets: organs and tissues, stress response, hormone response, and mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana, based on public Affymetrix ATH1 microarray expression data. P450 expression was then combined with the expression of 4,130 re-annotated genes, predicted to act in plant metabolism, for co-expression analyses. Based on the annotation of co-expressed genes from diverse pathway annotation databases, co-expressed pathways were identified. Predictions were validated for most P450s with known functions. As examples, co-expression results for P450s related to plastidial functions/photosynthesis, and to phenylpropanoid, triterpenoid and jasmonate metabolism are highlighted here.
Conclusion
The large scale hypothesis generation tools presented here provide leads to new pathways, unexpected functions, and regulatory networks for many P450s in plant metabolism. These can now be exploited by the community to validate the proposed functions experimentally using reverse genetics, biochemistry, and metabolic profiling.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-47
PMCID: PMC2383897  PMID: 18433503
4.  Conservation and diversity of gene families explored using the CODEHOP strategy in higher plants 
BMC Plant Biology  2002;2:7.
Background
Availability of genomewide information on an increasing but still limited number of plants offers the possibility of identifying orthologues, or related genes, in species with major economical impact and complex genomes. In this paper we exploit the recently described CODEHOP primer design and PCR strategy for targeted isolation of homologues in large gene families.
Results
The method was tested with two different objectives. The first was to analyze the evolution of the CYP98 family of cytochrome P450 genes involved in 3-hydroxylation of phenolic compounds and lignification in a broad range of plant species. The second was to isolate an orthologue of the sorghum glucosyl transferase UGT85B1 and to determine the complexity of the UGT85 family in wheat. P450s of the CYP98 family or closely related sequences were found in all vascular plants. No related sequence was found in moss. Neither extensive duplication of the CYP98 genes nor an orthologue of UGT85B1 were found in wheat. The UGT85A subfamily was however found to be highly variable in wheat.
Conclusions
Our data are in agreement with the implication of CYP98s in lignification and the evolution of 3-hydroxylation of lignin precursors with vascular plants. High conservation of the CYP98 family strongly argues in favour of an essential function in plant development. Conversely, high duplication and diversification of the UGT85A gene family in wheat suggests its involvement in adaptative response and provides a valuable pool of genes for biotechnological applications. This work demonstrates the high potential of the CODEHOP strategy for the exploration of large gene families in plants.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-2-7
PMCID: PMC122057  PMID: 12153706
5.  Cytochromes P450 
There are 272 cytochrome P450 genes (including 26 pseudogenes) in the Arabidopsis genome. P450s thus form one of the largest families of proteins in higher plants. This explosion of the P450 family is thought to have occurred via gene duplication and conversion, and to result from the need of sessile plants to adapt to a harsh environment and to protect themselves from pathogens and predators. P450s sometimes share less than 20% identity and catalyze extremely diverse reactions. Their biological functions range from the synthesis of structural macromolecules such as lignin, cutin or suberin, to the synthesis or catabolism of all types of hormone or signaling molecules, the synthesis of pigments and defense compounds, and to the metabolism of xenobiotics. In despite of a huge acceleration in our understanding of plant P450 functions in the recent years, the vast majority of these functions remain completely unknown.
doi:10.1199/tab.0028
PMCID: PMC3243372  PMID: 22303202
6.  Cytochromes P450: a success story 
Genome Biology  2000;1(6):reviews3003.1-reviews3003.9.
Cytochrome P450 proteins are enzymes that function in diverse pathways, from carbon source assimilation to hormone biosynthesis. In all P450s, heme is bound in a structurally conserved protein core, allowing them to catalyze regioselective and stereoselective oxidation of hydrocarbons.
Cytochrome P450 proteins, named for the absorption band at 450 nm of their carbon-monoxide-bound form, are one of the largest superfamilies of enzyme proteins. The P450 genes (also called CYP) are found in the genomes of virtually all organisms, but their number has exploded in plants. Their amino-acid sequences are extremely diverse, with levels of identity as low as 16% in some cases, but their structural fold has remained the same throughout evolution. P450s are heme-thiolate proteins; their most conserved structural features are related to heme binding and common catalytic properties, the major feature being a completely conserved cysteine serving as fifth (axial) ligand to the heme iron. Canonical P450s use electrons from NAD(P)H to catalyze activation of molecular oxygen, leading to regiospecific and stereospecific oxidative attack of a plethora of substrates. The reactions carried out by P450s, though often hydroxylation, can be extremely diverse and sometimes surprising. They contribute to vital processes such as carbon source assimilation, biosynthesis of hormones and of structural components of living organisms, and also carcinogenesis and degradation of xenobiotics. In plants, chemical defense seems to be a major reason for P450 diversification. In prokaryotes, P450s are soluble proteins. In eukaryotes, they are usually bound to the endoplasmic reticulum or inner mitochondrial membranes. The electron carrier proteins used for conveying reducing equivalents from NAD(P)H differ with subcellular localization. P450 enzymes catalyze many reactions that are important in drug metabolism or that have practical applications in industry; their economic impact is therefore considerable.
PMCID: PMC138896  PMID: 11178272
7.  The seco-iridoid pathway from Catharanthus roseus 
Nature Communications  2014;5:3606.
The (seco)iridoids and their derivatives, the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIAs), form two large families of plant-derived bioactive compounds with a wide spectrum of high-value pharmacological and insect-repellent activities. Vinblastine and vincristine, MIAs used as anticancer drugs, are produced by Catharanthus roseus in extremely low levels, leading to high market prices and poor availability. Their biotechnological production is hampered by the fragmentary knowledge of their biosynthesis. Here we report the discovery of the last four missing steps of the (seco)iridoid biosynthesis pathway. Expression of the eight genes encoding this pathway, together with two genes boosting precursor formation and two downstream alkaloid biosynthesis genes, in an alternative plant host, allows the heterologous production of the complex MIA strictosidine. This confirms the functionality of all enzymes of the pathway and highlights their utility for synthetic biology programmes towards a sustainable biotechnological production of valuable (seco)iridoids and alkaloids with pharmaceutical and agricultural applications.
The (seco)iridoids and their monoterpenoid indole alkaloid (MIA) derivatives are plant-derived compounds with pharmaceutical applications. Here, the authors identify the last four missing steps of the (seco)iridoid pathway, which they reconstitute in an alternative plant host to produce the complex MIA, strictosidine.
doi:10.1038/ncomms4606
PMCID: PMC3992524  PMID: 24710322

Results 1-7 (7)