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Molecular cloning of violaxathin de-epoxidase from romaine lettuce and expression in Escherichia coli

Bugos, R.C., Yamamoto, H.Y.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1996 v.93 no.13 pp. 6320-6325
Lactuca sativa, complementary DNA, oxidoreductases, nucleotide sequences, gene transfer, gene expression, Escherichia coli, enzyme activity, messenger RNA, leaves, violaxanthin
Plants need to avoid or dissipate excess light energy to protect photosystem II (PSII) from photoinhibitory damage. Higher plants have a conserved system that dissipates excess energy as heat in the light-harvesting complexes of PSII that depends on the transthylakoid delta pH and violaxanthin de-epoxidase (VDE) activity. To our knowledge, we report the first cloning of a cDNA encoding VDE and expression of functional enzyme in Escherichia coli. VDE is nuclear encoded and has a transit peptide with characteristic features of other lumen-localized proteins. The cDNA encodes a putative polypeptide of 473 aa with a calculated molecular mass of 54,447 Da. Cleavage of the transit peptide results in a mature putative polypeptide of 348 aa with a calculated molecular mass of 39,929 Da, close to the apparent mass of the purified enzyme (43 kDa). The protein has three interesting domains including (i) a cysteine-rich region, (ii) a lipocalin signature, and (iii) a highly charged region. The E. coli expressed enzyme de-epoxidizes violaxanthin sequentially to antheraxanthin and zeaxanthin, and is inhibited by dithiothreitol, similar to VDE purified from chloroplasts. This confirms that the cDNA encodes an authentic VDE of a higher plant and is unequivocal evidence that the same enzyme catalyzes the two-step mono de-epoxidation reaction. The cloning of VDE opens new opportunities for examining the function and evolution of the xanthophyll cycle, and possibly enhancing light-stress tolerance of plants.