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Plant J. 2005 Mar;41(6):875-87.

Genomics-based selection and functional characterization of triterpene glycosyltransferases from the model legume Medicago truncatula.

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1
Plant Biology Division, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, 2510 Sam Noble Parkway, Ardmore, OK 73401, USA.

Abstract

The biosynthesis of triterpene saponins is poorly characterized in spite of the importance of these glycosylated secondary metabolites for plant defense and animal health. The model legume Medicago truncatula synthesizes more than 30 different saponins based on at least five triterpene aglycones; soyasapogenols B and E, medicagenic acid, hederagenin and bayogenin. We have employed an inducible cell culture system, DNA array-based and in silico transcript profiling, and targeted metabolite profiling, to identify triterpene glycosyltransferases (GTs) from among the more than 300 GTs expressed in M. truncatula. Two uridine diphosphate glucosyltransferases were functionally characterized; UGT73K1 with specificity for hederagenin and soyasapogenols B and E, and UGT71G1 with specificity for medicagenic acid. The latter enzyme also glycosylated certain isoflavones and the flavonol quercetin with higher efficiency than triterpenes; however, integrated transcript and metabolite profiling supported a function for UGT71G1 in terpenoid but not (iso)flavonoid biosynthesis in the elicited cell cultures.

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