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Plant Physiol. 2001 Jan;125(1):189-98.

Molecular and biochemical analysis of a Madagascar periwinkle root-specific minovincinine-19-hydroxy-O-acetyltransferase.

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Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale, Département de Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal, 4101 rue Sherbrooke est, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H1X 2B2.


The terminal steps in the biosynthesis of the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids vindoline and minovincinine are catalyzed by separate acetyl coenzyme A-dependent O-acetyltransferases in Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus G. Don). Two genes were isolated that had 63% nucleic acid identity and whose deduced amino acid sequences were 78% identical. Active enzymes that were expressed as recombinant His-tagged proteins in Escherichia coli were named minovincinine-19-O-acetyltransferase (MAT) and deacetylvindoline-4-O-acetyltransferase (DAT) because they catalyzed the 19-O-acetylation of indole alkaloids such as minovincinine and hörhammericine and the 4-O-acetylation of deacetylvindoline, respectively. Kinetic studies showed that the catalytic efficiency of recombinant MAT (rMAT) was very poor compared with that of recombinant DAT (rDAT), whose turnover rates for Acetyl-coenzyme A and deacetylvindoline were approximately 240- and 10,000-fold greater than those of rMAT. Northern-blot analyses showed that MAT is expressed in cortical cells of the root tip, whereas DAT is only expressed in specialized idioblast and laticifer cells within light exposed tissues like leaves and stems. The coincident expression of trytophan decarboxylase, strictosidine synthase, and MAT within root cortical cells suggests that the entire pathway for the biosynthesis of tabersonine and its substituted analogs occurs within these cells. The ability of MAT to catalyze the 4-O-acetylation of deacetylvindoline with low efficiency suggests that this enzyme, rather than DAT, is involved in vindoline biosynthesis within transformed cell and root cultures, which accumulate low levels of this alkaloid under certain circumstances.

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