A protein hydrolyzing hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA esters has been purified from tobacco stem extracts by a series of high pressure liquid chromatography steps. The determination of its N-terminal amino acid sequence allowed design of primers permitting the corresponding cDNA to be cloned by PCR. Sequence analysis revealed that the tobacco gene belongs to a plant acyltransferase gene family, the members of which have various functions. The tobacco cDNA was expressed in bacterial cells as a recombinant protein fused to glutathione S-transferase. The fusion protein was affinity-purified and cleaved to yield the recombinant enzyme for use in the study of catalytic properties. The enzyme catalyzed the synthesis of shikimate and quinate esters shown recently to be substrates of the cytochrome P450 3-hydroxylase involved in phenylpropanoid biosynthesis. The enzyme has been named hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA: shikimate/quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase. We show that p-coumaroyl-CoA and caffeoyl-CoA are the best acyl group donors and that the acyl group is transferred more efficiently to shikimate than to quinate. The enzyme also catalyzed the reverse reaction, i.e. the formation of caffeoyl-CoA from chlorogenate (5-O-caffeoyl quinate ester). Thus, hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:shikimate/ quinate hydroxycinnamoyltransferase appears to control the biosynthesis and turnover of major plant phenolic compounds such as lignin and chlorogenic acid.
SummaryThe monomeric composition of tobacco lignin has been modified by genetic engineering. Sense or antiseose expression of sequences encoding O-methyltransferese (OMT), a lignin biosynthetic enzyme, was shown to modulate enzyme activity. Ten constructs harboring the entire or a partial OMT cDNA were used. Populations of 20 transgenic plants per construct were analyzed for OMT activity and compared with untransformed controls. As expected, expression of only the full-length sense construct led to an increase in OMT activity. An important reduction of activity was found in a variable number of plantlets from all other transgenic populations but the inhibition was sustained through the adult stage only in plants transformed with the complete cDNA. T-DNA genes were shown to be stably integrated into the tobacco genome and to be transmitted to the progeny. By using gene-specific probes, OMT inhibition in stems was correlated to a parallel disappearance of OMT transcripts originating from both the resident gene and the transgene. In contrast, transgene transcripts were detected in leaf tissues where the resident gene is poorly expressed, thus indicating that relative expression of the two OMT genes controls transcript turnover. In stems of inhibited plants, a marked decrease of syringyl units and the appearance of 5-hydroxy guaiacyl units were demonstrated. These two structural features are also characteristic of natural mutants of maize with an improved digestibility compared with wild lines. These data demonstrate the feasibility and the potential benefits of lignin manipulation.
Bilberry is a characteristic field layer species in the boreal forests and is an important forage plant for herbivores of the North European ecosystem. Bilberry leaves contain high levels of phenolic compounds, especially hydroxycinnamic acids, flavonols, catechins, and proanthocyanidins. We investigated the phenolic composition of bilberry leaves in two studies, one following foliar development in forest and open areas, and the other along a wide geographical gradient from south to north boreal forests in Finland. An analysis of bilberry leaves collected in open and forest areas showed that major phenolic changes appeared in the first stages of leaf development, but, most importantly, synthesis and accumulation of flavonoids was delayed in the forest compared to the high light sites. Sampling along a geographical gradient in the boreal zone indicated that leaves from higher latitudes and higher altitudes had greater soluble phenolic and flavonol levels, higher antioxidant capacity, and lower contents of chlorogenic acid derivatives. The ecological significance of the results is discussed.
The demand for dry juniper (Juniperus communis) needles as a raw material for the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries has increased rapidly in recent years. Juniper needles are known to be rich in terpenoids and phenolics, but their chemical composition and antibacterial properties have not been well-characterized. In this study, we describe the soluble phenolic and terpenoid composition of juniper needles collected in Finland (n = 125) and demonstrate that the concentration of these compounds clearly increased with latitude and altitude with, however, a stronger latitudinal effect (a higher content of monoterpenoids, proanthocyanidins, and flavonols in northern latitudes). Analysis of methanolic extracts showed quite good activity against both antibiotic-sensitive and -resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains and suggested an important role of the soluble phenolic fraction. Finally, we demonstrate the relative lack of toxicity of juniper extracts on keratinocytes and fibroblastic cells, raising the possibility of their use in preventing bacterial skin infection.
Barley UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (UGPase), a key enzyme for the synthesis of sucrose, cellulose and other saccharides, was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. Using both native electrophoresis and gel filtration, the recombinant and crude leaf UGPase proteins were found to exist as a mixture of monomers, dimers and higher-order polymers. In order to understand the molecular basis for the oligomerization of UGPase, a conserved Cys residue was replaced (C99S mutant) and several amino acids were substituted (LIV to NIN, KK to LL and LLL to NNN) in a conserved hydrophobic domain (amino acids 117-138). The C99S mutant had about half the V (max) of the wild-type and a 12-fold higher K (m) for PP(i), whereas NIN and LL mutations lowered the V (max) by 12- and 2-fold, respectively, with relatively small effects on substrate K (m) values (the NNN mutant was insoluble/inactive). The NIN mutation resulted in a low-activity oligomerized enzyme form, with very little monomer formation. Activity staining on native PAGE gels as well as gel-filtration studies demonstrated that the monomer was the sole enzymically active form. Possible implications of the oligomerization status of UGPase for post-translational regulation of the enzyme are discussed.
It has previously been suggested that plasma membrane ATPase (PM H+-ATPase, EC 126.96.36.199.) is a site of incipient freezing injury because activity increases following cold acclimation and there are published data indicating that activity of PM H+-ATPase is modulated by changes in lipids associated with the enzyme. To test and extend these findings in a tree species, we analyzed PM H+-ATPase activity and the fatty acid (FA) composition of glycerolipids in purified plasma membranes (PMs) prepared by the two-phase partition method from current-year needles of adult red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) trees. Freezing tolerance of the needles decreased from -56 degrees C in March to -9 degrees C in May, and increased from -15 degrees C in September to -148 degrees C in January. Specific activity of vanadate-sensitive PM H+-ATPase increased more than two-fold following cold acclimation, despite a concurrent increase in protein concentration. During de-acclimation, decreases in PM H+-ATPase activity and freezing tolerance were accompanied by decreases in the proportions of oleic (18:1) and linoleic (18:2) acids and increases in the proportions of palmitic (16:0) and linolenic (18:3) acids in total glycerolipids extracted from the plasma membrane fraction. This pattern of changes in PM H+-ATPase activity and the 18:1, 18:2 and 18:3 fatty acids was reversed during cold acclimation. In the PM fractions, changes in FA unsaturation, expressed as the double bond index (1 x 18:1 + 2 x 18:2 + 3 x 18:3), were closely correlated with changes in H+-ATPase specific activity (r2 = 0.995). Changes in freezing tolerance were well correlated with DBI (r2 = 0.877) and ATPase specific activity (r2 = 0.833) in the PM fraction. Total ATPase activity in microsomal fractions also closely followed changes in freezing tolerance (r2 = 0.969). We conclude that, as in herbaceous plants, simultaneous seasonal changes in PM H+-ATPase activity and fatty acid composition occur during cold acclimation and de-acclimation in an extremely winter hardy tree species under natural conditions, lending support to the hypothesis that FA-regulated PM H+-ATPase activity is involved in the cellular response underlying cold acclimation and de-acclimation.
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