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Plant Physiol. 2004 May;135(1):346-56. Epub 2004 Apr 30.

Production of coumaroylserotonin and feruloylserotonin in transgenic rice expressing pepper hydroxycinnamoyl-coenzyme A:serotonin N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, Agricultural Plant Stress Research Center, Biotechnology Research Institute, Chonnam National University, Gwangju 500-757, South Korea.


Transgenic rice (Oryza sativa) plants were engineered to express a N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase from pepper (Capsicum annuum), which has been shown to have hydroxycinnamoyl-CoA:tyramine N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase activity, a key enzyme in the synthesis of hydroxycinnamic acid amides, under the control of constitutive maize (Zea mays) ubiquitin promoter. The transgenic rice plants require foliar application of amines to support synthesis of hydroxycinnamic acid amides, suggestive of limiting amine substrates in rice shoots. In addition, when T2 homozygous transgenic rice plants were grown in the presence of amines or phenolic acids, two novel compounds were exclusively identified in the leaves of the transgenic plants. These compounds eluted earlier than p-coumaroyltyramine and feruloyltyramine during HPLC chromatography and were identified as p-coumaroylserotonin and feruloylserotonin by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry and other methods. To test whether the unpredicted production of serotonin derivatives is associated with the pepper N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase, the substrate specificity of the pepper enzyme was analyzed again. Purified recombinant pepper N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase exhibited a serotonin N-hydroxycinnamoyltransferase (SHT) activity, synthesized p-coumaroylserotonin and feruloylserotonin in vitro, and demonstrated a low K(m) for serotonin. SHT activity was inhibited by 10 to 50 mm tyramine. In addition, SHT activity was predominantly found in the root tissues of wild-type rice in parallel with the synthesis of serotonin derivatives, suggesting that serotonin derivatives are synthesized in the root of rice. This is the first report of SHT activity and the first demonstration, to our knowledge, that serotonin derivatives can be overproduced in vivo in transgenic rice plants that express serotonin N-(hydroxycinnamoyl)transferase.

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