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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jun 12;273(24):14891-9.

Monoterpene synthases from common sage (Salvia officinalis). cDNA isolation, characterization, and functional expression of (+)-sabinene synthase, 1,8-cineole synthase, and (+)-bornyl diphosphate synthase.

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  • 1Institute of Biological Chemistry, and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6340, USA.


Common sage (Salvia officinalis) produces an extremely broad range of cyclic monoterpenes bearing diverse carbon skeletons, including members of the p-menthane (1,8-cineole), pinane (alpha- and beta-pinene), thujane (isothujone), camphane (camphene), and bornane (camphor) families. An homology-based polymerase chain reaction cloning strategy was developed and used to isolate the cDNAs encoding three multiproduct monoterpene synthases from this species that were functionally expressed in Escherichia coli. The heterologously expressed synthases produce (+)-bornyl diphosphate, 1, 8-cineole, and (+)-sabinene, respectively, as their major products from geranyl diphosphate. The bornyl diphosphate synthase also produces significant amounts of (+)-alpha-pinene, (+)-camphene, and (+/-)-limonene. The 1,8-cineole synthase produces significant amounts of (+)- and (-)-alpha-pinene, (+)- and (-)-beta-pinene, myrcene and (+)-sabinene, and the (+)-sabinene synthase produces significant quantities of gamma-terpinene and terpinolene. All three enzymes appear to be translated as preproteins bearing an amino-terminal plastid targeting sequence, consistent with the plastidial origin of monoterpenes in plants. Deduced sequence analysis and size exclusion chromatography indicate that the recombinant bornyl diphosphate synthase is a homodimer, whereas the other two recombinant enzymes are monomeric, consistent with the size and subunit architecture of their native enzyme counterparts. The distribution and stereochemistry of the products generated by the recombinant (+)-bornyl diphosphate synthase suggest that this enzyme might represent both (+)-bornyl diphosphate synthase and (+)-pinene synthase which were previously assumed to be distinct enzymes.

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