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Ziegler, J.; Schmidt, S.; Strehmel, N.; Scheel, D.; Abel, S. Arabidopsis Transporter ABCG37/PDR9 contributes primarily highly oxygenated Coumarins to Root Exudation Sci Rep 7, 3704, (2017) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03250-6

The chemical composition of root exudates strongly impacts the interactions of plants with microorganisms in the rhizosphere and the efficiency of nutrient acquisition. Exudation of metabolites is in part mediated by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. In order to assess the contribution of individual ABC transporters to root exudation, we performed an LC-MS based non-targeted metabolite profiling of semi-polar metabolites accumulating in root exudates of Arabidopsis thaliana plants and mutants deficient in the expression of ABCG36 (PDR8/PEN3), ABCG37 (PDR9) or both transporters. Comparison of the metabolite profiles indicated distinct roles for each ABC transporter in root exudation. Thymidine exudation could be attributed to ABCG36 function, whereas coumarin exudation was strongly reduced only in ABCG37 deficient plants. However, coumarin exudation was compromised in abcg37 mutants only with respect to certain metabolites of this substance class. The specificity of ABCG37 for individual coumarins was further verified by a targeted LC-MS based coumarin profiling method. The response to iron deficiency, which is known to strongly induce coumarin exudation, was also investigated. In either treatment, the distribution of individual coumarins between roots and exudates in the investigated genotypes suggested the involvement of ABCG37 in the exudation specifically of highly oxygenated rather than monohydroxylated coumarins.

Ziegler, J.; Schmidt, S.; Chutia, R.; Müller, J.; Böttcher, C.; Strehmel, N.; Scheel, D.; Abel, S. Non-targeted profiling of semi-polar metabolites in Arabidopsis root exudates uncovers a role for coumarin secretion and lignification during the local response to phosphate limitation J Exp Bot 67, 1421-1432, (2016) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erv539

Plants have evolved two major strategies to cope with phosphate (Pi) limitation. The systemic response, mainly comprising increased Pi uptake and metabolic adjustments for more efficient Pi use, and the local response, enabling plants to explore Pi-rich soil patches by reorganization of the root system architecture. Unlike previous reports, this study focused on root exudation controlled by the local response to Pi deficiency. To approach this, a hydroponic system separating the local and systemic responses was developed. Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes exhibiting distinct sensitivities to Pi deficiency could be clearly distinguished by their root exudate composition as determined by non-targeted reversed-phase ultraperformance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry metabolite profiling. Compared with wild-type plants or insensitive low phosphate root 1 and 2 (lpr1 lpr2) double mutant plants, the hypersensitive phosphate deficiency response 2 (pdr2) mutant exhibited a reduced number of differential features in root exudates after Pi starvation, suggesting the involvement of PDR2-encoded P5-type ATPase in root exudation. Identification and analysis of coumarins revealed common and antagonistic regulatory pathways between Pi and Fe deficiency-induced coumarin secretion. The accumulation of oligolignols in root exudates after Pi deficiency was inversely correlated with Pi starvation-induced lignification at the root tips. The strongest oligolignol accumulation in root exudates was observed for the insensitive lpr1 lpr2 double mutant, which was accompanied by the absence of Pi deficiency-induced lignin deposition, suggesting a role of LPR ferroxidases in lignin polymerization during Pi starvation. 

Strehmel, N.; Mönchgesang, S.; Herklotz, S.; Krüger, S.; Ziegler, J.; Scheel, D. Piriformospora indica Stimulates Root Metabolism of Arabidopsis thaliana Int J Mol Sci 17, 1091, (2016) DOI: 10.3390/ijms17071091

Piriformospora indica is a root-colonizing fungus, which interacts with a variety of plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. This interaction has been considered as mutualistic leading to growth promotion of the host. So far, only indolic glucosinolates and phytohormones have been identified as key players. In a comprehensive non-targeted metabolite profiling study, we analyzed Arabidopsis thaliana’s roots, root exudates, and leaves of inoculated and non-inoculated plants by ultra performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC/(ESI)-QTOFMS) and gas chromatography/electron ionization quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC/EI-QMS), and identified further biomarkers. Among them, the concentration of nucleosides, dipeptides, oligolignols, and glucosinolate degradation products was affected in the exudates. In the root profiles, nearly all metabolite levels increased upon co-cultivation, like carbohydrates, organic acids, amino acids, glucosinolates, oligolignols, and flavonoids. In the leaf profiles, we detected by far less significant changes. We only observed an increased concentration of organic acids, carbohydrates, ascorbate, glucosinolates and hydroxycinnamic acids, and a decreased concentration of nitrogen-rich amino acids in inoculated plants. These findings contribute to the understanding of symbiotic interactions between plant roots and fungi of the order of Sebacinales and are a valid source for follow-up mechanistic studies, because these symbioses are particular and clearly different from interactions of roots with mycorrhizal fungi or dark septate endophytes 

Buhtz, A.; Witzel, K.; Strehmel, N.; Ziegler, J.; Abel, S.; Grosch, R. Perturbations in the Primary Metabolism of Tomato and Arabidopsis thaliana Plants Infected with the Soil-Borne Fungus Verticillium dahliae PLoS ONE 10, e0138242, (2015) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138242

The hemibiotrophic soil-borne fungus Verticillium dahliae is a major pathogen of a number of economically important crop species. Here, the metabolic response of both tomato and Arabidopsis thaliana to V. dahliae infection was analysed by first using non-targeted GC-MS profiling. The leaf content of both major cell wall components glucuronic acid and xylose was reduced in the presence of the pathogen in tomato but enhanced in A. thaliana. The leaf content of the two tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates fumaric acid and succinic acid was increased in the leaf of both species, reflecting a likely higher demand for reducing equivalents required for defence responses. A prominent group of affected compounds was amino acids and based on the targeted analysis in the root, it was shown that the level of 12 and four free amino acids was enhanced by the infection in, respectively, tomato and A. thaliana, with leucine and histidine being represented in both host species. The leaf content of six free amino acids was reduced in the leaf tissue of diseased A. thaliana plants, while that of two free amino acids was raised in the tomato plants. This study emphasizes the role of primary plant metabolites in adaptive responses when the fungus has colonized the plant.

Kopycki, J.; Schmidt, J.; Abel, S.; Grubb, C. D. Chemoenzymatic synthesis of diverse thiohydroximates from glucosinolate-utilizing enzymes 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.

Ziegler, J.; Facchini, P.J.; Geißler, R.; Schmidt, J.; Ammer, C.; Kramell, R.; Voigtländer, S.; Gesell, A.; Pienkny, S.; Brandt, W. Evolution of morphine biosynthesis in opium poppy. Phytochemistry 70, 1696 - 1707, (2009) DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.07.006

Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) are a group of nitrogen-containing plant secondary metabolites comprised of an estimated 2500 identified structures. In BIA metabolism, (S)-reticuline is a key branch-point intermediate that can be directed into several alkaloid subtypes with different structural skeleton configurations. The morphinan alkaloids are one subclass of BIAs produced in only a few plant species, most notably and abundantly in the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Comparative transcriptome analysis of opium poppy and several other Papaver species that do not accumulate morphinan alkaloids showed that known genes encoding BIA biosynthetic enzymes are expressed at higher levels in P. somniferum. Three unknown cDNAs that are co-ordinately expressed with several BIA biosynthetic genes were identified as enzymes in the pathway. One of these enzymes, salutaridine reductase (SalR), which is specific for the production of morphinan alkaloids, was isolated and heterologously overexpressed in its active form not only from P. somniferum, but also from Papaver species that do not produce morphinan alkaloids.SalR is a member of a class of short chain dehydrogenase/reductases (SDRs) that are active as monomers and possess an extended amino acid sequence compared with classical SDRs. Homology modelling and substrate docking revealed the substrate binding site for SalR. The amino acids residues conferring salutaridine binding were compared to several members of the SDR family from different plant species, which non-specifically reduce ( )-menthone to (+)-neomenthol. Previously, it was shown that some of these proteins are involved in plant defence. The recruitment of specific monomeric SDRs from monomeric SDRs involved in plant defence is discussed.

Pienkny, S.; Brandt, W.; Schmidt, J.; Kramell, R.; Ziegler, J. Functional characterization of a novel benzylisoquinoline O-methyltransferase suggests its involvement in papaverine biosynthesis in opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L) Plant J 60, 56 - 67, (2009) DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2009.03937.x

The benzylisoquinoline alkaloids are a highly diverse group of about 2500 compounds which accumulate in a species-specific manner. Despite the numerous compounds which could be identified, the biosynthetic pathways and the participating enzymes or cDNAs could be characterized only for a few selected members, whereas the biosynthesis of the majority of the compounds is still largely unknown. In an attempt to characterize additional biosynthetic steps at the molecular level, integration of alkaloid and transcript profiling across Papaver species was performed. This analysis showed high expression of an expressed sequence tag (EST) of unknown function only in Papaver somniferum varieties. After full-length cloning of the open reading frame and sequence analysis, this EST could be classified as a member of the class II type O-methyltransferase protein family. It was related to O-methyltransferases from benzylisoquinoline biosynthesis, and the amino acid sequence showed 68% identical residues to norcoclaurine 6-O-methyltransferase. However, rather than methylating norcoclaurine, the recombinant protein methylated norreticuline at position seven with a Km of 44 lM using S-adenosyl-L-methionine as a cofactor. Of all substrates tested, only norreticuline was converted.Even minor changes in the benzylisoquinoline backbone were not tolerated by the enzyme. Accordingly, the enzyme was named norreticuline 7–O-methyltransferase (N7OMT). This enzyme represents a novel Omethyltransferase in benzylisoquinoline metabolism. Expression analysis showed slightly increased expression of N7OMT in P. somniferum varieties containing papaverine, suggesting its involvement in the partially unknown biosynthesis of this pharmaceutically important compound.

Jindaprasert, A.; Springob, K.; Schmidt, J.; De-Eknamkul, W.; Kutchan, T.M. Pyrone polyketides synthesized by a type III polyketide synthase from Drosophyllum lusitanicum Phytochemistry 69, 3043-3053, (2008) DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2008.03.013

To isolate cDNAs involved in the biosynthesis of acetate-derived naphthoquinones in Drosophyllum lusitanicum, an expressed sequence tag analysis was performed. RNA from callus cultures was used to create a cDNA library from which 2004 expressed sequence tags were generated. One cDNA with similarity to known type III polyketide synthases was isolated as full-length sequence and termed DluHKS. The translated polypeptide sequence of DluHKS showed 51–67% identity with other plant type III PKSs. Recombinant DluHKS expressed in Escherichia coli accepted acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) as starter and carried out sequential decarboxylative condensations with malonyl-CoA yielding α-pyrones from three to six acetate units. However, naphthalenes, the expected products, were not isolated. Since the main compound produced by DluHKS is a hexaketide α-pyrone, and the naphthoquinones in D. lusitanicum are composed of six acetate units, we propose that the enzyme provides the backbone of these secondary metabolites. An involvement of accessory proteins in this biosynthetic pathway is discussed.

Fellenberg, C.; Milkowski, C.; Hause, B.; Lange, P.; Böttcher, C.; Schmidt, J.; Vogt, T. Tapetum-specific location of a cation-dependent O-methyltransferase in Arabidopsis thaliana Plant J 56, 132-145, (2008) DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03576.x

Cation- and S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent plant natural product methyltransferases are referred to as CCoAOMTs because of their preferred substrate, caffeoyl coenzyme A (CCoA). The enzymes are encoded by a small family of genes, some of which with a proven role in lignin monomer biosynthesis. In Arabidopsis thaliana individual members of this gene family are temporally and spatially regulated. The gene At1g67990 is specifically expressed in flower buds, and is not detected in any other organ, such as roots, leaves or stems. Several lines of evidence indicate that the At1g67990 transcript is located in the flower buds, whereas the corresponding CCoAOMT-like protein, termed AtTSM1, is located exclusively in the tapetum of developing stamen. Flowers of At1g67990 RNAi-suppressed plants are characterized by a distinct flower chemotype with severely reduced levels of the N ′,N ′′-bis-(5-hydroxyferuloyl)-N ′′′-sinapoylspermidine compensated for by N1,N5,N10-tris-(5-hydroxyferuloyl)spermidine derivative, which is characterized by the lack of a single methyl group in the sinapoyl moiety. This severe change is consistent with the observed product profile of AtTSM1 for aromatic phenylpropanoids. Heterologous expression of the recombinant protein shows the highest activity towards a series of caffeic acid esters, but 5-hydroxyferuloyl spermidine conjugates are also accepted substrates. The in vitro substrate specificity and the in vivo RNAi-mediated suppression data of the corresponding gene suggest a role of this cation-dependent CCoAOMT-like protein in the stamen/pollen development of A. thaliana.

Ziegler, J.; Voigtländer, S.; Schmidt, J.; Kramell, R.; Miersch, O.; Ammer, C.; Gesell, A.; Kutchan, T.M. Comparative transcript and alkaloid profiling in Papaver species identifies a short chain dehydrogenase/reductase involved in morphine biosynthesis Plant J 48, 177-192, (2006) DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2006.02860.x

Plants of the order Ranunculales, especially members of the species Papaver, accumulate a large variety of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids with about 2500 structures, but only the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) and Papaver setigerum are able to produce the analgesic and narcotic morphine and the antitussive codeine. In this study, we investigated the molecular basis for this exceptional biosynthetic capability by comparison of alkaloid profiles with gene expression profiles between 16 different Papaver species. Out of 2000 expressed sequence tags obtained from P. somniferum, 69 show increased expression in morphinan alkaloid-containing species. One of these cDNAs, exhibiting an expression pattern very similar to previously isolated cDNAs coding for enzymes in benzylisoquinoline biosynthesis, showed the highest amino acid identity to reductases in menthol biosynthesis. After overexpression, the protein encoded by this cDNA reduced the keto group of salutaridine yielding salutaridinol, an intermediate in morphine biosynthesis. The stereoisomer 7-epi-salutaridinol was not formed. Based on its similarities to a previously purified protein from P. somniferum with respect to the high substrate specificity, molecular mass and kinetic data, the recombinant protein was identified as salutaridine reductase (SalR; EC Unlike codeinone reductase, an enzyme acting later in the pathway that catalyses the reduction of a keto group and which belongs to the family of the aldo-keto reductases, the cDNA identified in this study as SalR belongs to the family of short chain dehydrogenases/reductases and is related to reductases in monoterpene metabolism.
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