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Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2012 Nov;168(5):1086-100. doi: 10.1007/s12010-012-9843-0. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Switchgrass PviCAD1: understanding residues important for substrate preferences and activity.

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USDA-ARS Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit, University of Nebraska, 137 Keim Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0937, USA.


Cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD) catalyzes the final step in monolignol biosynthesis. Although plants contain numerous genes coding for CADs, only one or two CADs appear to have a primary physiological role in lignin biosynthesis. Much of this distinction appears to reside in a few key residues that permit reasonable catalytic rates on monolignal substrates. Here, several mutant proteins were generated using switchgrass wild type (WT) PviCAD1 as a template to understand the role of some of these key residues, including a proton shuttling HL duo in the active site. Mutated proteins displayed lowered or limited activity on cinnamylaldehydes and exhibited altered kinetic properties compared to the WT enzyme, suggesting that key residues important for efficient catalysis had been identified. We have also shown that a sorghum ortholog containing EW, instead of HL in its active site, displayed negligible activity against monolignals. These results indicate that lignifying CADs require a specific set of key residues for efficient activity against monolignals.

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