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Phytochemistry. 2008 Nov;69(16):2831-43. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.09.005. Epub 2008 Oct 20.

Monolignol acylation and lignin structure in some nonwoody plants: a 2D NMR study.

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Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Ramiro de Maeztu 9, E-28040 Madrid, Spain.


Lignins from three nonwoody angiosperms were analyzed by 2D NMR revealing important differences in their molecular structures. The Musa textilis milled-wood-lignin (MWL), with a syringyl-to-guaiacyl (S/G) ratio of 9, was strongly acylated (near 85% of side-chains) at the gamma-carbon by both acetates and p-coumarates, as estimated from (1)H-(13)C correlations in C(gamma)-esterified and C(gamma)-OH units. The p-coumarate H(3,5)-C(3,5) correlation signal was completely displaced by acetylation, and disappeared after alkali treatment, indicating that p-coumaric acid was esterified maintaining its free phenolic group. By contrast, the Cannabis sativa MWL (S/G approximately 0.8) was free of acylating groups, and the Agave sisalana MWL (S/G approximately 4) showed high acylation degree (near 80%) but exclusively with acetates. Extensive C(gamma)-acylation results in the absence (in M. textilis lignin) or low abundance (4% in A. sisalana lignin) of beta-beta' resinol linkages, which require free C(gamma)-OH to form the double tetrahydrofuran ring. However, minor signals revealed unusual acylated beta-beta' structures confirming that acylation is produced at the monolignol level, in agreement with chromatographic identification of gamma-acetylated sinapyl alcohol among the plant extractives. In contrast, resinol substructures involved 22% side-chains in the C.sativa MWL. The ratio between beta-beta' and beta-O-4' side-chains in these and other MWL varied from 0.32 in C.sativa MWL to 0.02 in M. textilis MWL, and was inversely correlated with the degree of acylation. The opposite was observed for the S/G ratio that was directly correlated with the acylation degree. Monolignol acylation is discussed as a mechanism potentially involved in the control of lignin structure.

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