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Plant J. 2007 Jun;50(5):902-10. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Identification of a flavin-monooxygenase as the S-oxygenating enzyme in aliphatic glucosinolate biosynthesis in Arabidopsis.

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Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


The cancer-preventive activity of cruciferous vegetables is commonly attributed to isothiocyanates resulting from the breakdown of the natural products glucosinolates (GSLs). Sulforaphane, the isothiocyanate derived from 4-methylsulfinylbutyl GSL, is thought to be the major agent conferring cancer-preventive properties, whereas the isothiocyanate of 4-methylthiobutyl GSL does not have the same activity. We report the identification of an Arabidopsis flavin-monooxygenase (FMO) enzyme, FMO(GS-OX1), which catalyzes the conversion of methylthioalkyl GSLs into methylsulfinylalkyl GSLs. This is evidenced by biochemical characterization of the recombinant protein, and analyses of the GSL content in FMO(GS-OX1) overexpression lines and an FMO(GS-OX1) knock-out mutant of Arabidopsis. The FMO(GS-OX1) overexpression lines show almost complete conversion of methylthioalkyl into methylsulfinylalkyl GSLs, with an approximately fivefold increase in 4-methylsulfinylbutyl GSL in seeds. Identification of FMO(GS-OX1) provides a molecular tool for breeding of Brassica vegetable crops with increased levels of this important GSL, which has implications for production of functional foods enriched with the cancer-preventive sulforaphane.

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