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Schilling, S.; Wasternack, C.; Demuth, H.-U.; Glutaminyl cyclases from animals and plants: a case of functionally convergent protein evolution Biol. Chem. 389, (2008) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2008.111

Several mammalian peptide hormones and proteins from plant and animal origin contain an N-terminal pyroglutamic acid (pGlu) residue. Frequently, the moiety is important in exerting biological function in either mediating interaction with receptors or stabilizing against N-terminal degradation. Glutaminyl cyclases (QCs) were isolated from different plants and animals catalyzing pGlu formation. The recent resolution of the 3D structures of Carica papaya and human QCs clearly supports different evolutionary origins of the proteins, which is also reflected by different enzymatic mechanisms. The broad substrate specificity is revealed by the heterogeneity of physiological substrates of plant and animal QCs, including cytokines, matrix proteins and pathogenesis-related proteins. Moreover, recent evidence also suggests human QC as a catalyst of pGlu formation at the N-terminus of amyloid peptides, which contribute to Alzheimer's disease. Obviously, owing to its biophysical properties, the function of pGlu in plant and animal proteins is very similar in terms of stabilizing or mediating protein and peptide structure. It is possible that the requirement for catalysis of pGlu formation under physiological conditions may have triggered separate evolution of QCs in plants and animals.

Schilling, S.; Stenzel, I.; von Bohlen, A.; Wermann, M.; Schulz, K.; Demuth, H.-U.; Wasternack, C.; Isolation and characterization of the glutaminyl cyclases from Solanum tuberosum and Arabidopsis thaliana: implications for physiological functions Biol. Chem. 388, 145-153, (2007) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2007.016

Glutaminyl cyclases (QCs) catalyze the formation of pyroglutamic acid at the N-terminus of several peptides and proteins. On the basis of the amino acid sequence of Carica papaya QC, we identified cDNAs of the putative counterparts from Solanum tuberosum and Arabidopsis thaliana. Upon expression of the corresponding cDNAs from both plants via the secretory pathway of Pichia pastoris, two active QC proteins were isolated. The specificity of the purified proteins was assessed using various substrates with different amino acid composition and length. Highest specificities were observed with substrates possessing large hydrophobic residues adjacent to the N-terminal glutamine and for fluorogenic dipeptide surrogates. However, compared to Carica papaya QC, the specificity constants were approximately one order of magnitude lower for most of the QC substrates analyzed. The QCs also catalyzed the conversion of N-terminal glutamic acid to pyroglutamic acid, but with approximately 105- to 106-fold lower specificity. The ubiquitous distribution of plant QCs prompted a search for potential substrates in plants. Based on database entries, numerous proteins, e.g., pathogenesis-related proteins, were found that carry a pyroglutamate residue at the N-terminus, suggesting QC involvement. The putative relevance of QCs and pyroglutamic acid for plant defense reactions is discussed.

Delker, C.; Stenzel, I.; Hause, B.; Miersch, O.; Feussner, I.; Wasternack, C.; Jasmonate Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana - Enzymes, Products, Regulation Plant Biol. 8, 297-306, (2006) DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-923935

Among the plant hormones jasmonic acid and related derivatives are known to mediate stress responses and several developmental processes. Biosynthesis, regulation, and metabolism of jasmonic acid in Arabidopsis thaliana are reviewed, including properties of mutants of jasmonate biosynthesis. The individual signalling properties of several jasmonates are described.

Schneider, K.; Kienow, L.; Schmelzer, E.; Colby, T.; Bartsch, M.; Miersch, O.; Wasternack, C.; Kombrink, E.; Stuible, H.-P.; A New Type of Peroxisomal Acyl-Coenzyme A Synthetase from Arabidopsis thaliana Has the Catalytic Capacity to Activate Biosynthetic Precursors of Jasmonic Acid J. Biol. Chem. 280, 13962-13972, (2005) DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M413578200

Arabidopsis thaliana contains a large number of genes that encode carboxylic acid-activating enzymes, including nine long-chain fatty acyl-CoA synthetases, four 4-coumarate:CoA ligases (4CL), and 25 4CL-like proteins of unknown biochemical function. Because of their high structural and sequence similarity with bona fide 4CLs and their highly hydrophobic putative substrate-binding pockets, the 4CL-like proteins At4g05160 and At5g63380 were selected for detailed analysis. Following heterologous expression, the purified proteins were subjected to a large scale screen to identify their preferred in vitro substrates. This study uncovered a significant activity of At4g05160 with medium-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids carrying a phenyl substitution, long-chain fatty acids, as well as the jasmonic acid precursors 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid and 3-oxo-2-(2′-pentenyl)-cyclopentane-1-hexanoic acid. The closest homolog of At4g05160, namely At5g63380, showed high activity with long-chain fatty acids and 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid, the latter representing the most efficiently converted substrate. By using fluorescent-tagged variants, we demonstrated that both 4CL-like proteins are targeted to leaf peroxisomes. Collectively, these data demonstrate that At4g05160 and At5g63380 have the capacity to contribute to jasmonic acid biosynthesis by initiating the β-oxidative chain shortening of its precursors.

Schilling, S.; Manhart, S.; Hoffmann, T.; Ludwig, H.-H.; Wasternack, C.; Demuth, H.-U.; Substrate Specificity of Glutaminyl Cyclases from Plants and Animals Biol. Chem. 384, 1583-1592, (2003) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2003.175

Glutaminyl cyclases (QC) catalyze the intramolecular cyclization of N-terminal glutamine residues of peptides and proteins. For a comparison of the substrate specificity of human and papaya QC enzymes, a novel continuous assay was established by adapting an existing discontinuous method. Specificity constants (kcat/Km) of dipeptides and dipeptide surrogates were higher for plant QC, whereas the selectivity for oligopeptides was similar for both enzymes. However, only the specificity constants of mammalian QC were dependent on size and composition of the substrates. Specificity constants of both enzymes were equally pH-dependent in the acidic pH-region, revealing a pKa value identical to the pKa of the substrate, suggesting similarities in the substrate conversion mode. Accordingly, both QCs converted the L-?homoglutaminyl residue in the peptide H-?homoGln-Phe-Lys-Arg-Leu-Ala-NH2 and the glutaminyl residues of the branched peptide H-Gln-Lys(Gln)-Arg-Leu-Ala-NH2 as well as the partially cyclized peptide H-Gln-cyclo( N?-Lys-Arg-Pro-Ala-Gly-Phe). In contrast, only QC from C. papaya was able to cyclize a methylated glutamine residue, while this compound did not even inhibit human QC-catalysis, suggesting distinct substrate recognition pattern. The conversion of the potential physiological substrates gastrin, neurotensin and [GlN1]-fertilization promoting peptide indicates that human QC may play a key role in posttranslational modification of most if not all pGlu-containing hormones.

Schilling, S.; Niestroj, A. J.; Rahfeld, J.-U.; Hoffmann, T.; Wermann, M.; Zunkel, K.; Wasternack, C.; Demuth, H.-U.; Identification of Human Glutaminyl Cyclase as a Metalloenzyme J. Biol. Chem. 278, 49773-49779, (2003) DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M309077200

Human glutaminyl cyclase (QC) was identified as a metalloenzyme as suggested by the time-dependent inhibition by the heterocyclic chelators 1,10-phenanthroline and dipicolinic acid. The effect of EDTA on QC catalysis was negligible. Inactivated enzyme could be fully restored by the addition of Zn2+ in the presence of equimolar concentrations of EDTA. Little reactivation was observed with Co2+ and Mn2+. Other metal ions such as K+, Ca2+, and Ni2+ were inactive under the same conditions. Additionally, imidazole and imidazole derivatives were identified as competitive inhibitors of QC. An initial structure activity-based inhibitor screening of imidazole-derived compounds revealed potent inhibition of QC by imidazole N-1 derivatives. Subsequent data base screening led to the identification of two highly potent inhibitors, 3-[3-(1H-imidazol-1-yl)propyl]-2-thioxoimidazolidin-4-one and 1,4-bis-(imidazol-1-yl)-methyl-2,5-dimethylbenzene, which exhibited respective Ki values of 818 ± 1 and 295 ± 5 nm. The binding properties of the imidazole derivatives were further analyzed by the pH dependence of QC inhibition. The kinetically obtained pKa values of 6.94 ± 0.02, 6.93 ± 0.03, and 5.60 ± 0.05 for imidazole, methylimidazole, and benzimidazole, respectively, match the values obtained by titrimetric pKa determination, indicating the requirement for an unprotonated nitrogen for binding to QC. Similarly, the pH dependence of the kinetic parameter Km for the QC-catalyzed conversion of H-Gln-7-ami-no-4-methylcoumarin also implies that only N-terminally unprotonated substrate molecules are bound to the active site of the enzyme, whereas turnover is not affected. The results reveal human QC as a metal-dependent transferase, suggesting that the active site-bound metal is a potential site for interaction with novel, highly potent competitive inhibitors.

Gidda, S. K.; Miersch, O.; Levitin, A.; Schmidt, J.; Wasternack, C.; Varin, L.; Biochemical and Molecular Characterization of a Hydroxyjasmonate Sulfotransferase from Arabidopsis thaliana J. Biol. Chem. 278, 17895-17900, (2003) DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M211943200

12-Hydroxyjasmonate, also known as tuberonic acid, was first isolated from Solanum tuberosum and was shown to have tuber-inducing properties. It is derived from the ubiquitously occurring jasmonic acid, an important signaling molecule mediating diverse developmental processes and plant defense responses. We report here that the gene AtST2a from Arabidopsis thaliana encodes a hydroxyjasmonate sulfotransferase. The recombinant AtST2a protein was found to exhibit strict specificity for 11- and 12-hydroxyjasmonate with Km values of 50 and 10 μm, respectively. Furthermore, 12-hydroxyjasmonate and its sulfonated derivative are shown to be naturally occurring inA. thaliana. The exogenous application of methyljasmonate to A. thaliana plants led to increased levels of both metabolites, whereas treatment with 12-hydroxyjasmonate led to increased level of 12-hydroxyjasmonate sulfate without affecting the endogenous level of jasmonic acid. AtST2a expression was found to be induced following treatment with methyljasmonate and 12-hydroxyjasmonate. In contrast, the expression of the methyljasmonate-responsive gene Thi2.1, a marker gene in plant defense responses, is not induced upon treatment with 12-hydroxyjasmonate indicating the existence of independent signaling pathways responding to jasmonic acid and 12-hydroxyjasmonic acid. Taken together, the results suggest that the hydroxylation and sulfonation reactions might be components of a pathway that inactivates excess jasmonic acid in plants. Alternatively, the function of AtST2a might be to control the biological activity of 12-hydroxyjasmonic acid.

Bachmann, A.; Hause, B.; Maucher, H.; Garbe, E.; Vörös, K.; Weichert, H.; Wasternack, C.; Feussner, I.; Jasmonate-Induced Lipid Peroxidation in Barley Leaves Initiated by Distinct 13-LOX Forms of Chloroplasts Biol. Chem. 383, 1645-1657, (2002) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2002.185

In addition to a previously characterized 13-lipoxygenase of 100 kDa encoded by LOX2:Hv:1 [Vörös et al., Eur. J. Biochem. 251 (1998), 36 44], two fulllength cDNAs (LOX2:Hv:2, LOX2:Hv:3) were isolated from barley leaves (Hordeum vulgare cv. Salome) and characterized. Both of them encode 13-lipoxygenases with putative target sequences for chloroplast import. Immunogold labeling revealed preferential, if not exclusive, localization of lipoxygenase proteins in the stroma. The ultrastructure of the chloroplast was dramatically altered following methyl jasmonate treatment, indicated by a loss of thylakoid membranes, decreased number of stacks and appearance of numerous osmiophilic globuli. The three 13-lipoxygenases are differentially expressed during treatment with jasmonate, salicylate, glucose or sorbitol. Metabolite profiling of free linolenic acid and free linoleic acid, the substrates of lipoxygenases, in water floated or jasmonatetreated leaves revealed preferential accumulation of linolenic acid. Remarkable amounts of free 9- as well as 13-hydroperoxy linolenic acid were found. In addition, metabolites of these hydroperoxides, such as the hydroxy derivatives and the respective aldehydes, appeared following methyl jasmonate treatment. These findings were substantiated by metabolite profiling of isolated chloroplasts, and subfractions including the envelope, the stroma and the thylakoids, indicating a preferential occurrence of lipoxygenasederived products in the stroma and in the envelope. These data revealed jasmonateinduced activation of the hydroperoxide lyase and reductase branch within the lipoxygenase pathway and suggest differential activity of the three 13-lipoxygenases under different stress conditions.

Ziegler, J.; Stenzel, I.; Hause, B.; Maucher, H.; Hamberg, M.; Grimm, R.; Ganal, M.; Wasternack, C.; Molecular Cloning of Allene Oxide Cyclase J. Biol. Chem. 275, 19132-19138, (2000) DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M002133200

Allene oxide cyclase (EC catalyzes the stereospecific cyclization of an unstable allene oxide to (9S,13S)-12-oxo-(10,15Z)-phytodienoic acid, the ultimate precursor of jasmonic acid. This dimeric enzyme has previously been purified, and two almost identical N-terminal peptides were found, suggesting allene oxide cyclase to be a homodimeric protein. Furthermore, the native protein was N-terminally processed. Using degenerate primers, a polymerase chain reaction fragment could be generated from tomato, which was further used to isolate a full-length cDNA clone of 1 kilobase pair coding for a protein of 245 amino acids with a molecular mass of 26 kDa. Whereas expression of the whole coding region failed to detect allene oxide cyclase activity, a 5′-truncated protein showed high activity, suggesting that additional amino acids impair the enzymatic function. Steric analysis of the 12-oxophytodienoic acid formed by the recombinant enzyme revealed exclusive (>99%) formation of the 9S,13Senantiomer. Exclusive formation of this enantiomer was also found in wounded tomato leaves. Southern analysis and genetic mapping revealed the existence of a single gene for allene oxide cyclase located on chromosome 2 of tomato. Inspection of the N terminus revealed the presence of a chloroplastic transit peptide, and the location of allene oxide cyclase protein in that compartment could be shown by immunohistochemical methods. Concomitant with the jasmonate levels, the accumulation of allene oxide cyclase mRNA was transiently induced after wounding of tomato leaves.

Miersch, O.; Wasternack, C.; Octadecanoid and Jasmonate Signaling in Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Leaves: Endogenous Jasmonates Do Not Induce Jasmonate Biosynthesis Biol. Chem. 381, 715-722, (2000) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2000.092

Jasmonates and their precursors, the octadecanoids, are signals in stress-induced alteration of gene expression. Several mRNAs coding for enzymes of jasmonic acid (JA) biosynthesis are up-regulated upon JA treatment or endogenous increase of the JA level. Here we investigated the positive feedback of endogenous JA on JA formation, as well as its β-oxidation steps. JA-responsive gene expression was recorded in terms of proteinase inhibitor2 (pin2) mRNA accumulation. JA formed upon treatment of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Moneymaker) leaves with JA derivatives carrying different lengths of the carboxylic acid side chain was quantified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The data revealed that β-oxidation of the side chain occurs up to a butyric acid moiety. The amount of JA formed from side-chain modified JA derivatives correlated with pin2-mRNA accumulation. JA derivatives with a carboxylic side chain of 3, 5 or 7 carbon atoms were unable to form JA and to express on pin2, whereas evennumbered derivatives were active.After treatment of tomato leaves with (10-2H)-(–)-12-oxophytoenoic acid, (4-2H)-(–)-JA and its methyl ester were formed and could be quantified separately from the endogenously nonlabeled JA pool by GC-MS analysis via isotopic discrimination. The level of 8 nmol per g fresh weight JA and its methyl ester originated exclusively from labeled 12-oxophytoenic acid. This and further data indicate that endogenous synthesis of the JA precursor 12-oxophytodienoic acid, as well as of JA and its methyl ester, are not induced in tomato leaves, suggesting that positive feedback in JA biosynthesis does not function in vivo.
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