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Plant Physiol. 1985 Apr;77(4):801-6.

Metabolism of Monoterpenes : Evidence for the Function of Monoterpene Catabolism in Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Rhizomes.

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Institute of Biological Chemistry, and Biochemistry/Biophysics Program, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164.


l-Menthone of peppermint leaves is reduced to d-neomenthol which is glucosylated and transported to the rhizome, whereupon the beta-d-glucoside is hydrolyzed, the aglycone oxidized back to l-menthone, and this ketone converted to l-3,4-menthone lactone. l-[G-(3)H]-3,4-Menthone lactone and its labeled progenitors, when incubated with excised mint rhizomes, gave rise to nonvolatile lipids as well as polar metabolites. The lipids thus generated consisted of labeled squalene and phytosterols in the nonsaponifiable fraction and C(14)-C(26) fatty acids in the saponifiable fraction. These results imply degradation of the terpenoid to acetylcoenzyme A and reduced pyridine nucleotide, and reincorporation of label via these products. Starch and soluble carbohydrates were also found to be labeled; however, chemical degradation of the [(3)H]glucose obtained on hydrolysis of starch indicated the presence of tritium only on interior carbons, suggesting that labeling had occurred via reduced pyridine nucleotides. Analysis of the labeled organic acids revealed the presence of several hydroxy methylacyl intermediates suggesting the operation of a modified beta-oxidation pathway in the degradation of the acyclic terpenoid skeleton. The results indicate that monoterpenes transported to the rhizome are oxidized to yield acetyl-coenzyme A and reduced pyridine nucleotides, and suggest that metabolic turnover of monoterpenes in mint represents a mechanism for recycling carbon and energy from foliar terpenes into other metabolites of the rhizome.

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