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Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

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Published Version

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Journal of Biological Chemistry





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Recent reports have revealed genomic clustering of enzymatic genes for particular biosynthetic pathways in plant specialized/secondary metabolism. Rice (Oryza sativa) carries two such clusters for production of antimicrobial diterpenoid phytoalexins, with the cluster on chromosome 2 containing four closely related/homologous members of the cytochrome P450 CYP76M subfamily (CYP76M5–8). Notably, the underlying evolutionary expansion of these CYP appears to have occurred after assembly of the ancestral biosynthetic gene cluster, suggesting separate roles. It has been demonstrated that CYP76M7 catalyzes C11α-hydroxylation of ent-cassadiene, and presumably mediates an early step in biosynthesis of the derived phytocassane class of phytoalexins. Here we report biochemical characterization of CYP76M5, -6, and -8. Our results indicate that CYP76M8 is a multifunctional/promiscuous hydroxylase, with CYP76M5 and -7 seeming to provide only redundant activity, while CYP76M6 seems to provide both redundant and novel activity, relative to CYP76M8. RNAi-mediated double knockdown of CYP76M7 and -8 suppresses elicitor inducible phytocassane production, indicating a role for these monooxygenases in phytocassane biosynthesis. In addition, our data suggests that CYP76M5, -6, and -8 may play redundant roles in production of the oryzalexin class of phytoalexins as well. Intriguingly, the preceding diterpene synthase for oryzalexin biosynthesis, unlike that for the phytocassanes, is not found in the chromosome 2 diterpenoid biosynthetic gene cluster. Accordingly, our results not only uncover a complex evolutionary history, but also further suggest some intriguing differences between plant biosynthetic gene clusters and the seemingly similar microbial operons. The implications for the underlying metabolic evolution of plants are then discussed.


This research was originally published in Journal of Biological Chemistry. Wang Q, Hillwig ML, Okada K, Yamazaki K, Wu Y, Swaminathan S, Yamane H, Peters RJ. Characterization of CYP76M5–8 indicates metabolic plasticity within a plant biosynthetic gene cluster. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012 Feb 24;287:6159-6168. © the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

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The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.



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