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J Exp Bot. 2001 Jun;52(359):1145-64.

The pathway of biosynthesis of abscisic acid in vascular plants: a review of the present state of knowledge of ABA biosynthesis.

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School of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


The pathway of biosynthesis of abscisic acid (ABA) can be considered to comprise three stages: (i) early reactions in which small phosphorylated intermediates are assembled as precursors of (ii) intermediate reactions which begin with the formation of the uncyclized C40 carotenoid phytoene and end with the cleavage of 9'-cis-neoxanthin (iii) to form xanthoxal, the C15 skeleton of ABA. The final phase comprising C15 intermediates is not yet completely defined, but the evidence suggests that xanthoxal is first oxidized to xanthoxic acid by a molybdenum-containing aldehyde oxidase and this is defective in the aba3 mutant of Arabidopsis and present in a 1-fold acetone precipitate of bean leaf proteins. This oxidation precludes the involvement of AB-aldehyde as an intermediate. The oxidation of the 4'-hydroxyl group to the ketone and the isomerization of the 1',2'-epoxy group to the 1'-hydroxy-2'-ene may be brought about by one enzyme which is defective in the aba2 mutant and is present in the 3-fold acetone fraction of bean leaves. Isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) is now known to be derived by the pyruvate-triose (Methyl Erythritol Phosphate, MEP) pathway in chloroplasts. (14C)IPP is incorporated into ABA by washed, intact chloroplasts of spinach leaves, but (14C)mevalonate is not, consequently, all three phases of biosynthesis of ABA occur within chloroplasts. The incorporation of labelled mevalonate into ABA by avocado fruit and orange peel is interpreted as uptake of IPP made in the cytoplasm, where it is the normal precursor of sterols, and incorporated into carotenoids after uptake by a carrier in the chloroplast envelope. An alternative bypass pathway becomes more important in aldehyde oxidase mutants, which may explain why so many wilty mutants have been found with this defect. The C-1 alcohol group is oxidized, possibly by a mono-oxygenase, to give the C-1 carboxyl of ABA. The 2-cis double bond of ABA is essential for its biological activity but it is not known how the relevant trans bond in neoxanthin is isomerized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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