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J Biol Chem. 2007 Jun 29;282(26):18879-85. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

Arabidopsis VTC2 encodes a GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase, the last unknown enzyme in the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway to ascorbic acid in plants.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


The first committed step in the biosynthesis of L-ascorbate from D-glucose in plants requires conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate by a previously unidentified enzyme. Here we show that the protein encoded by VTC2, a gene mutated in vitamin C-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana strains, is a member of the GalT/Apa1 branch of the histidine triad protein superfamily that catalyzes the conversion of GDP-L-galactose to L-galactose 1-phosphate in a reaction that consumes inorganic phosphate and produces GDP. In characterizing recombinant VTC2 from A. thaliana as a specific GDP-L-galactose/GDP-D-glucose phosphorylase, we conclude that enzymes catalyzing each of the ten steps of the Smirnoff-Wheeler pathway from glucose to ascorbate have been identified. Finally, we identify VTC2 homologs in plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates, suggesting that a similar reaction is used widely in nature.

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