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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Coniferyl aldehyde 5-hydroxylation and methylation direct syringyl lignin biosynthesis in angiosperms.

A central question in lignin biosynthesis is how guaiacyl intermediates are hydroxylated and methylated to the syringyl monolignol in angiosperms. To address this question, we cloned cDNAs encoding a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (LsM88) and a caffeate O-methyltransferase (COMT) from sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) xylem. Mass spectrometry-based functional analysis of LsM88 in yeast identified it as coniferyl aldehyde 5-hydroxylase (CAld5H). COMT expressed in Escherichia coli methylated 5-hydroxyconiferyl aldehyde to sinapyl aldehyde. Together, CAld5H and COMT converted coniferyl aldehyde to sinapyl aldehyde, suggesting a CAld5H/COMT-mediated pathway from guaiacyl to syringyl monolignol biosynthesis via coniferyl aldehyde that contrasts with the generally accepted route to sinapate via ferulate. Although the CAld5H/COMT enzyme system can mediate the biosynthesis of syringyl monolignol intermediates through either route, k(cat)/K(m) of CAld5H for coniferyl aldehyde was approximately 140 times greater than that for ferulate. More significantly, when coniferyl aldehyde and ferulate were present together, coniferyl aldehyde was a noncompetitive inhibitor (K(i) = 0.59 microM) of ferulate 5-hydroxylation, thereby eliminating the entire reaction sequence from ferulate to sinapate. In contrast, ferulate had no effect on coniferyl aldehyde 5-hydroxylation. 5-Hydroxylation also could not be detected for feruloyl-CoA or coniferyl alcohol. Therefore, in the presence of coniferyl aldehyde, ferulate 5-hydroxylation does not occur, and the syringyl monolignol can be synthesized only from coniferyl aldehyde. Endogenous coniferyl, 5-hydroxyconiferyl, and sinapyl aldehydes were detected, consistent with in vivo operation of the CAld5H/COMT pathway from coniferyl to sinapyl aldehydes via 5-hydroxyconiferyl aldehyde for syringyl monolignol biosynthesis.[1]


  1. Coniferyl aldehyde 5-hydroxylation and methylation direct syringyl lignin biosynthesis in angiosperms. Osakabe, K., Tsao, C.C., Li, L., Popko, J.L., Umezawa, T., Carraway, D.T., Smeltzer, R.H., Joshi, C.P., Chiang, V.L. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1999) [Pubmed]
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