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Plant Physiol. 2008 Nov;148(3):1721-33. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.125757. Epub 2008 Sep 17.

Subclade of flavin-monooxygenases involved in aliphatic glucosinolate biosynthesis.

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Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Plant Biology and Villum Kann Rasmussen Research Centre for Pro-Active Plants, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


Glucosinolates (GSLs) are amino acid-derived secondary metabolites with diverse biological activities dependent on chemical modifications of the side chain. We previously identified the flavin-monooxygenase FMO(GS-OX1) as an enzyme in the biosynthesis of aliphatic GSLs in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) that catalyzes the S-oxygenation of methylthioalkyl to methylsulfinylalkyl GSLs. Here, we report the fine mapping of a quantitative trait locus for the S-oxygenating activity in Arabidopsis. In this region, there are three FMOs that, together with FMO(GS-OX1) and a fifth FMO, form what appears to be a crucifer-specific subclade. We report the identification of these four uncharacterized FMOs, designated FMO(GS-OX2) to FMO(GS-OX5). Biochemical characterization of the recombinant protein combined with the analysis of GSL content in knockout mutants and overexpression lines show that FMO(GS-OX2), FMO(GS-OX3), and FMO(GS-OX4) have broad substrate specificity and catalyze the conversion from methylthioalkyl GSL to the corresponding methylsulfinylalkyl GSL independent of chain length. In contrast, FMO(GS-OX5) shows substrate specificity toward the long-chain 8-methylthiooctyl GSL. Identification of the FMO(GS-OX) subclade will generate better understanding of the evolution of biosynthetic activities and specificities in secondary metabolism and provides an important tool for breeding plants with improved cancer prevention characteristics as provided by the methylsulfinylalkyl GSL.

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