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Molecular cloning and functional analysis of a biphenyl phytoalexin-specific O-methyltransferase from apple cell suspension cultures

Sarkate, Amol, Saini, Shashank Sagar, Gaid, Mariam, Teotia, Deepa, Mir, Javid Iqbal, Agrawal, Pawan Kumar, Beerhues, Ludger, Sircar, Debabrata
Planta 2019 v.249 no.3 pp. 677-691
Malus domestica, Nicotiana benthamiana, Venturia inaequalis, apples, biosynthesis, biphenyl, cell suspension culture, complementary DNA, cultivars, dibenzofuran, elicitors, genes, leaves, malonyl coenzyme A, methyltransferases, molecular cloning, phytoalexins, polyketides, regioselectivity, substrate specificity, yellow fluorescent protein
MAIN CONCLUSION: This manuscript describes the cloning and functional characterization of a biphenyl phytoalexin biosynthetic gene, 3,5-dihydroxybiphenyl O-methyltransferase from elicitor-treated cell cultures of scab resistant apple cultivar ‘Florina’. Apples belong to the subtribe Malinae of the Rosaceae family. Biphenyls and dibenzofurans are the specialized phytoalexins of Malinae, of which aucuparin is the most widely distributed biphenyl. The precursor of aucuparin, 3,5-dihydroxybiphenyl, is a benzoate-derived polyketide, which is formed by the sequential condensation of three molecules of malonyl-CoA and one molecule of benzoyl-CoA in a reaction catalyzed by biphenyl synthase (BIS). This 3,5-dihydroxybiphenyl then undergoes sequential 5-O-methylation, 4-hydroxylation, and finally 3-O-methylation to form aucuparin. A cDNA encoding O-methyltransferase (OMT) was isolated and functionally characterized from the cell cultures of scab-resistant apple cultivar ‘Florina’ (Malus domestica cultivar ‘Florina’; MdOMT) after treatment with elicitor prepared from the apple scab causing fungus Venturia inaequalis. MdOMT catalyzed the regiospecific O-methylation of 3,5-dihydroxybiphenyl at the 5-position to form 3-hydroxy-5-methoxybiphenyl. The enzyme showed absolute substrate preference for 3,5-dihydroxybiphenyl. The elicitor-treated apple cell cultures showed transient increases in the MdOMT (GenBank ID MF740747) and MdBIS3 (GenBank ID JQ390523) transcript levels followed by the accumulation of biphenyls (aucuparin and noraucuparin) and dibenzofuran (eriobofuran) phytoalexins. MdOMT fused with N- and C-terminal yellow fluorescent protein showed cytoplasmic localization in the epidermis of Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. In scab inoculated greenhouse-grown ‘Florina’ plants, the expression of MdOMT was transiently induced in the stem followed by the accumulation of biphenyl phytoalexins.