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Phytochemistry. 2001 Aug;57(7):1105-13.

Oxidation of cinnamyl alcohols and aldehydes by a basic peroxidase from lignifying Zinnia elegans hypocotyls.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, University of Murcia, E-30100 Murcia, Spain.


The xylem of 26-day old Zinnia elegans hypocotyls synthesizes lignins derived from coniferyl alcohol and sinapyl alcohol with a G/S ratio of 43/57 in the aryl-glycerol-beta-aryl ether core, as revealed by thioacidolysis. Thioacidolysis of Z. elegans lignins also reveals the presence of coniferyl aldehyde end groups linked by beta-0-4 bonds. Both coniferyl and sinapyl alcohols, as well as coniferyl and sinapyl aldehyde, are substrates of a xylem cell wall-located strongly basic peroxidase, which is capable of oxidizing them in the absence and in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. This peroxidase shows a particular affinity for cinnamyl aldehydes with kappa(M) values in the mu(M) range, and some specificity for syringyl-type phenols. The affinity of this strongly basic peroxidase for cinnamyl alcohols and aldehydes is similar to that shown by the preceding enzymes in the lignin biosynthetic pathway (microsomal 5-hydroxylases and cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase), which also use cinnamyl alcohols and aldehydes as substrates, indicating that the one-way highway of construction of the lignin macromolecule has no metabolic "potholes" in which the lignin building blocks might accumulate. This fact suggests a high degree of metabolic plasticity for this basic peroxidase, which has been widely conserved during the evolution of vascular plants, making it one of the driving forces in the evolution of plant lignin heterogeneity.

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