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

O-Methylation of benzaldehyde derivatives by "lignin specific" caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase.

Although S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) dependent caffeic acid/5-hydroxyferulic acid 3/5-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is one of the key enzymes in lignin biosynthesis, the present work demonstrates that alfalfa COMT methylates benzaldehyde derivatives more efficiently than lignin pathway intermediates. 3,4-Dihydroxy, 5-methoxybenzaldehyde and protocatechuic aldehyde were the best in vitro substrates for OMT activity in extracts from developing alfalfa stems, and these compounds were preferred over lignin pathway intermediates for 3-O-methylation by recombinant alfalfa COMT expressed in Escherichia coli. OMT activity with benzaldehydes was strongly reduced in extracts from stems of transgenic alfalfa down-regulated in COMT. However, although COMT down-regulation drastically affects lignin composition, it does not appear to significantly impact metabolism of benzaldehyde derivatives in alfalfa. Structurally designed site-directed mutants of COMT showed altered relative substrate preferences for lignin precursors and benzaldehyde derivatives. Taken together, these results indicate that COMT may have more than one role in phenylpropanoid metabolism (but probably not in alfalfa), and that engineered COMT enzymes could be useful for metabolic engineering of both lignin and benzaldehyde-derived flavors and fragrances.[1]


  1. O-Methylation of benzaldehyde derivatives by "lignin specific" caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase. Kota, P., Guo, D., Zubieta, C., Noel, J., Dixon, R.A. Phytochemistry (2004) [Pubmed]
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