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Camptotheca acuminata 10‐hydroxycamptothecin O‐methyltransferase: an alkaloid biosynthetic enzyme co‐opted from flavonoid metabolism

Salim, Vonny, Jones, A. Daniel, DellaPenna, Dean
Theplant journal 2018 v.95 no.1 pp. 112-125
Camptotheca acuminata, biosynthesis, glycosides, glycosylation, indole alkaloids, kaempferol, medicinal plants, methyltransferases, monoterpenoids, quercetin, regioselectivity
The medicinal plant Camptotheca acuminata accumulates camptothecin, 10‐hydroxycamptothecin, and 10‐methoxycamptothecin as its major bioactive monoterpene indole alkaloids. Here, we describe identification and functional characterization of 10‐hydroxycamptothecin O‐methyltransferase (Ca10OMT), a member of the Diverse subclade of class II OMTs. Ca10OMT is highly active toward both its alkaloid substrate and a wide range of flavonoids in vitro and in this way contrasts with other alkaloid OMTs in the subclade that only utilize alkaloid substrates. Ca10OMT shows a strong preference for the A‐ring 7‐OH of flavonoids, which is structurally equivalent to the 10‐OH of 10‐hydroxycamptothecin. The substrates of other alkaloid OMTs in the subclade bear little similarity to flavonoids, but the 3‐D positioning of the 7‐OH, A‐ and C‐rings of flavonoids is nearly identical to the 10‐OH, A‐ and B‐rings of 10‐hydroxycamptothecin. This structural similarity likely explains the retention of flavonoid OMT activity by Ca10OMT and also why kaempferol and quercetin aglycones are potent inhibitors of its 10‐hydroxycamptothecin activity. The catalytic promiscuity and strong inhibition of Ca10OMT by flavonoid aglycones in vitro prompted us to investigate the potential physiological roles of the enzyme in vivo. Based on its regioselectivity, kinetic parameters and absence of 7‐OMT flavonoids in vivo, we conclude that the major and likely only substrate of Ca10OMTin vivo is 10‐hydroxycamptothecin. This is likely accomplished by Ca10OMT being kept spatially separated at the tissue levels from potentially inhibitory flavonoid aglycones, and flavonoid aglycones being rapidly glycosylated to non‐inhibitory flavonoid glycosides.