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Plant Physiol. 1989 Aug;90(4):1552-9.

Biosynthesis of the Cyanogenic Glucoside Dhurrin in Seedlings of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench and Partial Purification of the Enzyme System Involved.

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  • 1Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Plant Physiology, Royal Veterinary & Agricultural University, 40 Thorvaldsensvej, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


The cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin is rapidly synthesized in etiolated seedlings of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench. The dhurrin content of the seedlings increases sigmoidally with the germination time. Shoots of 10 centimeters height contain 850 nanomoles of dhurrin per shoot corresponding to 6% of the dry weight. The biosynthetic activity sharply rises upon germination and reaches a maximum level of 10 nanomoles dhurrin/(hour x shoot) after 48 hours when the shoots are 3 centimeters high. This maximum level is followed by a sharp decline in activity when germination time exceeds 65 hours. Dhurrin and the dhurrin-synthesizing enzyme system are primarily located in the upper part of the etiolated shoot where both are evenly distributed between the coleoptile, the primary leaves and the upper 0.5 centimeter of the first internode including the shoot apex. Dhurrin constitutes 30% of the dry weight of the upper 1.2 centimeter of 10 centimeter high shoots. The seed and root contain neither dhurrin nor the dhurrin-synthesizing enzyme system. The codistribution of dhurrin and the enzyme system throughout the seedling indicates that production and storage sites are located within the same cell. Purification of the dhurrin-synthesizing enzyme by gel filtration or by sucrose gradient centrifugations results in a tenfold increase in specific activity. Further purification is accompained by a decline in specific activity due to loss of essential components as demonstrated by reconstitution experiments.

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