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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 30, 1994; 91(18): 8497–8501.

Cloning of casbene synthase cDNA: evidence for conserved structural features among terpenoid cyclases in plants.


A near-full-length casbene synthase cDNA clone, pCS7, was isolated by using a partial cDNA clone, pCS4, to probe a lambda gt10 library constructed from poly(A)+ RNA from elicited castor bean seedlings. The cDNA insert had a length of 1983 bases with a polyadenylate tail of 19 bases. Translation of the cDNA sequence revealed an open reading frame encoding a 601-aa protein with a predicted M(r) of 68,960. Search of the GenBank data base with the deduced translation product revealed 42% identity and 65% similarity with 5-epi-aristolochene synthase from tobacco and 31% identity and 53% similarity with limonene synthase from spearmint. Each of the three proteins catalyzes an intramolecular cyclization of a prenyl diphosphate substrate to a specific cyclic terpenoid hydrocarbon product. The proposed reaction mechanisms for the three catalytic processes share common chemical features, even though the products being formed are members of three different classes of terpenoid compounds. Analysis of the alignment of the three proteins suggests that both primary and secondary structural elements are conserved. These similarities suggest that the genes that encode terpenoid cyclization enzymes of this type in angiosperms have undergone divergent evolution from an ancestral progenitor gene. In support of this proposition, the locations of five of the six introns in the casbene synthase gene align very closely with those of the five introns in the 5-epi-aristolochene synthase gene.

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