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Phytochemistry. 2009 Oct-Nov;70(15-16):1719-27. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.06.017. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

Biosynthesis of biphenyls and benzophenones--evolution of benzoic acid-specific type III polyketide synthases in plants.

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Institut für Pharmazeutische Biologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.


Type III polyketide synthases (PKSs) generate a diverse array of secondary metabolites by varying the starter substrate, the number of condensation reactions, and the mechanism of ring closure. Among the starter substrates used, benzoyl-CoA is a rare starter molecule. Biphenyl synthase (BIS) and benzophenone synthase (BPS) catalyze the formation of identical linear tetraketide intermediates from benzoyl-CoA and three molecules of malonyl-CoA but use alternative intramolecular cyclization reactions to form 3,5-dihydroxybiphenyl and 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzophenone, respectively. In a phylogenetic tree, BIS and BPS group together closely, indicating that they arise from a relatively recent functional diversification of a common ancestral gene. The functionally diverse PKSs, which include BIS and BPS, and the ubiquitously distributed chalcone synthases (CHSs) form separate clusters, which originate from a gene duplication event prior to the speciation of the angiosperms. BIS is the key enzyme of biphenyl metabolism. Biphenyls and the related dibenzofurans are the phytoalexins of the Maloideae. This subfamily of the Rosaceae includes a number of economically important fruit trees, such as apple and pear. When incubated with ortho-hydroxybenzoyl (salicoyl)-CoA, BIS catalyzes a single decarboxylative condensation with malonyl-CoA to form 4-hydroxycoumarin. A well-known anticoagulant derivative of this enzymatic product is dicoumarol. Elicitor-treated cell cultures of Sorbus aucuparia also formed 4-hydroxycoumarin when fed with the N-acetylcysteamine thioester of salicylic acid (salicoyl-NAC). BPS is the key enzyme of benzophenone metabolism. Polyprenylated benzophenone derivatives with bridged polycyclic skeletons are widely distributed in the Clusiaceae (Guttiferae). Xanthones are regioselectively cyclized benzophenone derivatives. BPS was converted into a functional phenylpyrone synthase (PPS) by a single amino acid substitution in the initiation/elongation cavity. The functional behavior of this Thr135Leu mutant was rationalized by homology modeling. The intermediate triketide may be redirected into a smaller pocket in the active site cavity, resulting in phenylpyrone formation by lactonization.

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