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Plant Physiol. 2004 Aug;135(4):1956-66. Epub 2004 Aug 6.

Characterization of a root-specific Arabidopsis terpene synthase responsible for the formation of the volatile monoterpene 1,8-cineole.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048, USA.


Arabidopsis is emerging as a model system to study the biochemistry, biological functions, and evolution of plant terpene secondary metabolism. It was previously shown that the Arabidopsis genome contains over 30 genes potentially encoding terpene synthases (TPSs). Here we report the characterization of a monoterpene synthase encoded by two identical, closely linked genes, At3g25820 and At3g25830. Transcripts of these genes were detected almost exclusively in roots. An At3g25820/At3g25830 cDNA was expressed in Escherichia coli, and the protein thus produced was shown to catalyze the formation of 10 volatile monoterpenes from geranyl diphosphate, with 1,8-cineole predominating. This protein was therefore designated AtTPS-Cin. The purified recombinant AtTPS-Cin displayed similar biochemical properties to other known monoterpene synthases, except for a relatively low K(m) value for geranyl diphosphate of 0.2 microm. At3g25820/At3g25830 promoter activity, measured with a beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene, was primarily found in the epidermis, cortex, and stele of mature primary and lateral roots, but not in the root meristem or the elongation zone. Although the products of AtTPS-Cin were not detected by direct extraction of plant tissue, the recent report of 1,8-cineole as an Arabidopsis root volatile (Steeghs M, Bais HP, de Gouw J, Goldan P, Kuster W, Northway M, Fall R, Vivanco JM [2004] Plant Physiol 135: 47-58) suggests that the enzyme products may be released into the rhizosphere rather than accumulated. Among Arabidopsis TPSs, AtTPS-Cin is most similar to the TPS encoded by At3g25810, a closely linked gene previously shown to be exclusively expressed in flowers. At3g25810 TPS catalyzes the formation of a set of monoterpenes that is very similar to those produced by AtTPS-Cin, but its major products are myrcene and (E)-beta-ocimene, and it does not form 1,8-cineole. These data demonstrate that divergence of organ expression pattern and product specificity are ongoing processes within the Arabidopsis TPS family.

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