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Grubb, C. D., Zipp, B. J., Kopycki, J., Schubert, M., Quint, M., Lim, E.-K., Bowles, D. J., Pedras, M. S. C. & Abel, S. Comparative analysis of Arabidopsis UGT74 glucosyltransferases reveals a special role of UGT74C1 in glucosinolate biosynthesis Plant J. 79, 92–105, (2014) DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12541

The study of glucosinolates and their regulation has provided a powerful framework for the exploration of fundamental questions about the function, evolution, and ecological significance of plant natural products, but uncertainties about their metabolism remain. Previous work has identified one thiohydroximate S-glucosyltransferase, UGT74B1, with an important role in the core pathway, but also made clear that this enzyme functions redundantly and cannot be the sole UDP-glucose dependent glucosyltransferase (UGT) in glucosinolate synthesis. Here, we present the results of a nearly comprehensive in vitro activity screen of recombinant Arabidopsis Family 1 UGTs, which implicate other members of the UGT74 clade as candidate glucosinolate biosynthetic enzymes. Systematic genetic analysis of this clade indicates that UGT74C1 plays a special role in the synthesis of aliphatic glucosinolates, a conclusion strongly supported by phylogenetic and gene expression analyses. Finally, the ability of UGT74C1 to complement phenotypes and chemotypes of the ugt74b1-2 knockout mutant and to express thiohydroximate UGT activity in planta provides conclusive evidence for UGT74C1 being an accessory enzyme in glucosinolate biosynthesis with a potential function during plant adaptation to environmental challenge.


Kopycki, J., Wieduwild, E., Kohlschmidt, J., Brandt, W., Stepanova, A.N., Alonso, J.M., Pedras, M.S., Abel, S. & Grubb, C.D. Kinetic analysis of Arabidopsis glucosyltransferase UGT74B1 illustrates a general mechanism by which enzymes can escape product inhibition Biochem J 450, 37-46, (2013) DOI: 10.1042/BJ20121403

Plant genomes encode numerous small molecule glycosyltransferases which modulate the solubility, activity, immunogenicity and/or reactivity of hormones, xenobiotics and natural products. The products of these enzymes can accumulate to very high concentrations, yet somehow avoid inhibiting their own biosynthesis. Glucosyltransferase UGT74B1 (UDP-glycosyltransferase 74B1) catalyses the penultimate step in the core biosynthetic pathway of glucosinolates, a group of natural products with important functions in plant defence against pests and pathogens. We found that mutation of the highly conserved Ser284 to leucine [wei9-1 (weak ethylene insensitive)] caused only very mild morphological and metabolic phenotypes, in dramatic contrast with knockout mutants, indicating that steady state glucosinolate levels are actively regulated even in unchallenged plants. Analysis of the effects of the mutation via a structural modelling approach indicated that the affected serine interacts directly with UDP-glucose, but also predicted alterations in acceptor substrate affinity and the kcat value, sparking an interest in the kinetic behaviour of the wild-type enzyme. Initial velocity and inhibition studies revealed that UGT74B1 is not inhibited by its glycoside product. Together with the effects of the missense mutation, these findings are most consistent with a partial rapid equilibrium ordered mechanism. This model explains the lack of product inhibition observed both in vitro and in vivo, illustrating a general mechanism whereby enzymes can continue to function even at very high product/precursor ratios.


Kopycki, J., Schmidt, J., Abel, S. & Grubb, D. Chemoenzymatic synthesis of diverse thiohydroximates from gluconsinolate-utilizing enymes from Helix pomatia and Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus Biotechnol. Lett 33, 1039-1046, (2011) DOI: 10.1007/s10529-011-0530-y

Thiohydroximates comprise a diverse class of compounds important in both biological and industrial chemistry. Their syntheses are generally limited to simple alkyl and aryl compounds with few stereocenters and a narrow range of functional groups. We hypothesized that sequential action of two recombinant enzymes, a sulfatase from Helix pomatia and a β-O-glucosidase from Caldicellulosiruptor saccharolyticus, on glucosinolates would allow synthesis of thiohydroximates from a structurally broad array of abundant precursors. We report successful synthesis of thiohydroximates of varied chemical classes, including from homochiral compounds of demonstrated biological activity. The chemoenzymatic synthetic route reported here should allow access to many, if not all, of the thiohydroximate core structures of the ~200 known naturally occurring glucosinolates. The enrichment of this group for compounds with possible pharmacological potential is discussed.

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