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J Nat Prod. 2001 Nov;64(11):1388-97.

Biosynthetic pathway to the cancer chemopreventive secoisolariciresinol diglucoside-hydroxymethyl glutaryl ester-linked lignan oligomers in flax (Linum usitatissimum) seed.

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  • 1Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6340, USA.


Application of stable and radioisotope precursor/tracer experiments resulted in the identification of various phenylpropanoid, monolignol, and lignan metabolites involved in the biosynthesis of the cancer chemopreventive secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG; 1)-containing ester-linked "polymer(s)" in flax (Linum usitatissimum) seed. Individual analysis of size-segregated flax seed capsules at five early stages of their development provided a metabolic profile of intermediates leading to "biopolymer" biosynthesis. The use of (1)H and (13)C NMR and HRMS analyses resulted in the identification of 6a-HMG (hydroxymethyl glutaryl) SDG (17) and 6a,6a'-di-HMG SDG (18) as the two major components of the ester-linked "biopolymer(s)". Based on metabolic tracer analyses and relative radioisotopic incorporations throughout each of these five stages of seed development, a biochemical pathway is proposed from phenylalanine to SDG (1), with subsequent mono- and di-substitutions of SDG (1) with HMG CoA. These metabolites then serve as precursors for formation of the SDG-HMG ester-linked oligomers. Results from this study will facilitate future isolation and characterization of the proteins and enzymes involved in biosynthesis of the SDG-HMG ester-linked oligomers in flax seed.

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