Nitrile-specifier proteins involved in glucosinolate hydrolysis in Arabidopsis thaliana.
ABSTRACT: Glucosinolates are plant secondary metabolites present in Brassicaceae plants such as the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Intact glucosinolates are believed to be biologically inactive, whereas degradation products after hydrolysis have multiple roles in growth regulation and defense. The degradation of glucosinolates is catalyzed by thioglucosidases called myrosinases and leads by default to the formation of isothiocyanates. The interaction of a protein called epithiospecifier protein (ESP) with myrosinase diverts the reaction toward the production of epithionitriles or nitriles depending on the glucosinolate structure. Here we report the identification of a new group of nitrile-specifier proteins (AtNSPs) in A. thaliana able to generate nitriles in conjunction with myrosinase and a more detailed characterization of one member (AtNSP2). Recombinant AtNSP2 expressed in Escherichia coli was used to test its impact on the outcome of glucosinolate hydrolysis using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry approach. AtNSP proteins share 30-45% sequence homology with A. thaliana ESP. Although AtESP and AtNSP proteins can switch myrosinase-catalyzed degradation of 2-propenylglucosinolate from isothiocyanate to nitrile, only AtESP generates the corresponding epithionitrile. Using the aromatic benzylglucosinolate, recombinant AtNSP2 is also able to direct product formation to the nitrile. Analysis of glucosinolate hydrolysis profiles of transgenic A. thaliana plants overexpressing AtNSP2 confirms its nitrile-specifier activity in planta. In silico expression analysis reveals distinctive expression patterns of AtNSPs, which supports a biological role for these proteins. In conclusion, we show that AtNSPs belonging to a new family of A. thaliana proteins structurally related to AtESP divert product formation from myrosinase-catalyzed glucosinolate hydrolysis and, thereby, likely affect the biological consequences of glucosinolate degradation. We discuss similarities and properties of AtNSPs and related proteins and the biological implications.
Project description:One of the best-studied plant defense systems, the glucosinolate-myrosinase system of the Brassicales, is composed of thioglucosides known as glucosinolates and their hydrolytic enzymes, the myrosinases. Tissue disruption brings these components together, and bioactive products are formed as a consequence of myrosinase-catalyzed glucosinolate hydrolysis. Among these products, isothiocyanates have attracted most interest as chemical plant defenses against herbivores and pathogens and health-promoting compounds in the human diet. Previous research has identified specifier proteins whose presence results in the formation of alternative product types, e.g., nitriles, at the expense of isothiocyanates. The biological roles of specifier proteins and alternative breakdown products are poorly understood. Here, we assessed glucosinolate breakdown product profiles obtained upon maceration of roots, seedlings and seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana Columbia-0. We identified simple nitriles as the predominant breakdown products of the major endogenous aliphatic glucosinolates in root, seed, and seedling homogenates. In agreement with this finding, genes encoding nitrile-specifier proteins (NSPs) are expressed in roots, seeds, and seedlings. Analysis of glucosinolate breakdown in mutants with T-DNA insertions in any of the five NSP genes demonstrated, that simple nitrile formation upon tissue disruption depended almost entirely on NSP2 in seeds and mainly on NSP1 in seedlings. In roots, about 70-80% of the nitrile-forming activity was due to NSP1 and NSP3. Thus, glucosinolate breakdown product profiles are organ-specifically regulated in A. thaliana Col-0, and high proportions of simple nitriles are formed in some parts of the plant. This should be considered in future studies on biological roles of the glucosinolate-myrosinase system.
Project description:Plants protect themselves against herbivory with a diverse array of repellent or toxic secondary metabolites. However, many herbivorous insects have developed counteradaptations that enable them to feed on chemically defended plants without apparent negative effects. Here, we present evidence that larvae of the specialist insect, Pieris rapae (cabbage white butterfly, Lepidoptera: Pieridae), are biochemically adapted to the glucosinolate-myrosinase system, the major chemical defense of their host plants. The defensive function of the glucosinolate-myrosinase system results from the toxic isothiocyanates that are released when glucosinolates are hydrolyzed by myrosinases on tissue disruption. We show that the hydrolysis reaction is redirected toward the formation of nitriles instead of isothiocyanates if plant material is ingested by P. rapae larvae, and that the nitriles are excreted with the feces. The ability to form nitriles is due to a larval gut protein, designated nitrile-specifier protein, that by itself has no hydrolytic activity on glucosinolates and that is unrelated to any functionally characterized protein. Nitrile-specifier protein appears to be the key biochemical counteradaptation that allows P. rapae to feed with impunity on plants containing glucosinolates and myrosinases. This finding sheds light on the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions and suggests novel highly selective pest management strategies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The glucosinolate-myrosinase system is an activated chemical defense system found in plants of the Brassicales order. Glucosinolates are stored separately from their hydrolytic enzymes, the myrosinases, in plant tissues. Upon tissue damage, e.g. by herbivory, glucosinolates and myrosinases get mixed and glucosinolates are broken down to an array of biologically active compounds of which isothiocyanates are toxic to a wide range of organisms. Specifier proteins occur in some, but not all glucosinolate-containing plants and promote the formation of biologically active non-isothiocyanate products upon myrosinase-catalyzed glucosinolate breakdown. RESULTS: Based on a phytochemical screening among representatives of the Brassicales order, we selected candidate species for identification of specifier protein cDNAs. We identified ten specifier proteins from a range of species of the Brassicaceae and assigned each of them to one of the three specifier protein types (NSP, nitrile-specifier protein, ESP, epithiospecifier protein, TFP, thiocyanate-forming protein) after heterologous expression in Escherichia coli. Together with nine known specifier proteins and three putative specifier proteins found in databases, we subjected the newly identified specifier proteins to phylogenetic analyses. Specifier proteins formed three major clusters, named AtNSP5-cluster, AtNSP1-cluster, and ESP/TFP cluster. Within the ESP/TFP cluster, specifier proteins grouped according to the Brassicaceae lineage they were identified from. Non-synonymous vs. synonymous substitution rate ratios suggested purifying selection to act on specifier protein genes. CONCLUSIONS: Among specifier proteins, NSPs represent the ancestral activity. The data support a monophyletic origin of ESPs from NSPs. The split between NSPs and ESPs/TFPs happened before the radiation of the core Brassicaceae. Future analyses have to show if TFP activity evolved from ESPs at least twice independently in different Brassicaceae lineages as suggested by the phylogeny. The ability to form non-isothiocyanate products by specifier protein activity may provide plants with a selective advantage. The evolution of specifier proteins in the Brassicaceae demonstrates the plasticity of secondary metabolism within an activated plant defense system.
Project description:Glucosinolates are secondary plant metabolites of Brassicaceae. They exert their effect after enzymatic hydrolysis to yield aglycones, which become nitriles and epithionitriles through the action of epithiospecifier (ESP) and nitrile-specifier proteins (NSP). The mechanism of action of broccoli ESP and NSP is poorly understood mainly because ESP and NSP structures have not been completely characterized and because aglycones are unstable, thus hindering experimental measurements. The aim of this work was to investigate the interaction of broccoli ESP and NSP with the aglycones derived from broccoli glucosinolates using molecular simulations. The three-dimensional structure of broccoli ESP was built based on its amino-acid sequence, and the NSP structure was constructed based on a consensus amino-acid sequence. The models obtained using Iterative Threading ASSEmbly Refinement (I-TASSER) were refined with the OPLS-AA/L all atom force field of GROMACS 5.0.7 and were validated by Veryfy3D and ERRAT. The structures were selected based on molecular dynamics simulations. Interactions between the proteins and aglycones were simulated with Autodock Vina at different pH. It was concluded that pH determines the stability of the complexes and that the aglycone derived from glucoraphanin has the highest affinity to both ESP and NSP. This agrees with the fact that glucoraphanin is the most abundant glucosinolate in broccoli florets.
Project description:Glucosinolates, a group of sulfur-rich thioglucosides found in plants of the order Brassicales, have attracted a lot of interest as chemical defenses of plants and health promoting substances in human diet. They are accumulated separately from their hydrolyzing enzymes, myrosinases, within the intact plant, but undergo myrosinase-catalyzed hydrolysis upon tissue disruption. This results in various biologically active products, e.g. isothiocyanates, simple nitriles, epithionitriles, and organic thiocyanates. While formation of isothiocyanates proceeds by a spontaneous rearrangement of the glucosinolate aglucone, aglucone conversion to the other products involves specifier proteins under physiological conditions. Specifier proteins appear to act with high specificity, but their exact roles and the structural bases of their specificity are presently unknown. Previous research identified the motif EXXXDXXXH as potential iron binding site required for activity, but crystal structures of recombinant specifier proteins lacked the iron cofactor. Here, we provide experimental evidence for the presence of iron (most likely Fe2+) in purified recombinant thiocyanate-forming protein from Thlaspi arvense (TaTFP) using a Ferene S-based photometric assay as well as Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry. Iron binding and activity depend on E266, D270, and H274 suggesting a direct interaction of Fe2+ with these residues. Furthermore, we demonstrate presence of iron in epithiospecifier protein and nitrile-specifier protein 3 from Arabidopsis thaliana (AtESP and AtNSP3). We also present a homology model of AtNSP3. In agreement with this model, iron binding and activity of AtNSP3 depend on E386, D390, and H394. The homology model further suggests that the active site of AtNSP3 imposes fewer restrictions to the glucosinolate aglucone conformation than that of TaTFP and AtESP due to its larger size. This may explain why AtNSP3 does not support epithionitrile or thiocyanate formation, which likely requires exact positioning of the aglucone thiolate relative to the side chain.
Project description:Glucosinolates present in Brassicaceae play a major role in herbivory defense. Upon tissue disruption, glucosinolates come into contact with myrosinase, which initiates their breakdown to biologically active compounds. Among these, the formation of epithionitriles is triggered by the presence of epithiospecifier protein (ESP) and a terminal double bond in the glucosinolate side chain. One ESP gene is characterized in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (AtESP; At1g54040.2). However, Brassica species underwent genome triplication since their divergence from the Arabidopsis lineage. This indicates the presence of multiple ESP isoforms in Brassica crops that are currently poorly characterized. We identified three B. oleracea ESPs, specifically BoESP1 (LOC106296341), BoESP2 (LOC106306810), and BoESP3 (LOC106325105) based on in silico genome analysis. Transcript and protein abundance were assessed in shoots and roots of four B. oleracea vegetables, namely broccoli, kohlrabi, white, and red cabbage, because these genotypes showed a differential pattern for the formation of glucosinolate hydrolysis products as well for their ESP activity. BoESP1 and BoESP2 were expressed mainly in shoots, while BoESP3 was abundant in roots. Biochemical characterization of heterologous expressed BoESP isoforms revealed different substrate specificities towards seven glucosinolates: all isoforms showed epithiospecifier activity on alkenyl glucosinolates, but not on non-alkenyl glucosinolates. The pH-value differently affected BoESP activity: while BoESP1 and BoESP2 activities were optimal at pH 6-7, BoESP3 activity remained relatively stable from pH 4 to 7. In order test their potential for the in vivo modification of glucosinolate breakdown, the three isoforms were expressed in A. thaliana Hi-0, which lacks AtESP expression, and analyzed for the effect on their respective hydrolysis products. The BoESPs altered the hydrolysis of allyl glucosinolate in the A. thaliana transformants to release 1-cyano-2,3-epithiopropane and reduced formation of the corresponding 3-butenenitrile and allyl isothiocyanate. Plants expressing BoESP2 showed the highest percentage of released epithionitriles. Given these results, we propose a model for isoform-specific roles of B. oleracea ESPs in glucosinolate breakdown.
Project description:Prolonged darkness leads to carbohydrate starvation, and as a consequence plants degrade proteins and lipids to oxidize amino acids and fatty acids as alternative substrates for mitochondrial ATP production. We investigated, whether the internal breakdown of glucosinolates, a major class of sulfur-containing secondary metabolites, might be an additional component of the carbohydrate starvation response in Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana). The glucosinolate content of A. thaliana leaves was strongly reduced after seven days of darkness. We also detected a significant increase in the activity of myrosinase, the enzyme catalyzing the initial step in glucosinolate breakdown, coinciding with a strong induction of the main leaf myrosinase isoforms TGG1 and TGG2. In addition, nitrilase activity was increased suggesting a turnover via nitriles and carboxylic acids. Internal degradation of glucosinolates might also be involved in diurnal or developmental adaptations of the glucosinolate profile. We observed a diurnal rhythm for myrosinase activity in two-week-old plants. Furthermore, leaf myrosinase activity and protein abundance of TGG2 varied during plant development, whereas leaf protein abundance of TGG1 remained stable indicating regulation at the transcriptional as well as post-translational level.
Project description:Brassicales species rich in glucosinolates are used for biofumigation, a process based on releasing enzymatically toxic isothiocyanates into the soil. These hydrolysis products are volatile and often reactive compounds. Moreover, glucosinolates can be degraded also without the presence of the hydrolytic enzyme myrosinase which might contribute to bioactive effects. Thus, in the present study the stability of Brassicaceae plant-derived and pure glucosinolates hydrolysis products was studied using three different soils (model biofumigation). In addition, the degradation of pure 2-propenyl glucosinolate was investigated with special regard to the formation of volatile breakdown products. Finally, the influence of pure glucosinolate degradation on the bacterial community composition was evaluated using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of 16S rRNA gene amplified from total community DNA. The model biofumigation study revealed that the structure of the hydrolysis products had a significant impact on their stability in the soil but not the soil type. Following the degradation of pure 2-propenyl glucosinolate in the soils, the nitrile as well as the isothiocyanate can be the main degradation products, depending on the soil type. Furthermore, the degradation was shown to be both chemically as well as biologically mediated as autoclaving reduced degradation. The nitrile was the major product of the chemical degradation and its formation increased with iron content of the soil. Additionally, the bacterial community composition was significantly affected by adding pure 2-propenyl glucosinolate, the effect being more pronounced than in treatments with myrosinase added to the glucosinolate. Therefore, glucosinolates can have a greater effect on soil bacterial community composition than their hydrolysis products.
Project description:Secondary metabolism is characterized by an impressive structural diversity. Here, we have addressed the mechanisms underlying structural diversification upon damage-induced activation of glucosinolates, a group of thioglucosides found in the Brassicales. The classical pathway of glucosinolate activation involves myrosinase-catalyzed hydrolysis and rearrangement of the aglucone to an isothiocyanate. Plants of the Brassicaceae possess specifier proteins, i.e. non-heme iron proteins that promote the formation of alternative products by interfering with this reaction through unknown mechanisms. We have used structural information available for the thiocyanate-forming protein from Thlaspi arvense (TaTFP), to test the impact of loops protruding at one side of its ?-propeller structure on product formation using the allylglucosinolate aglucone as substrate. In silico loop structure sampling and semiempirical quantum mechanical calculations identified a 3L2 loop conformation that enabled the Fe2+ cofactor to interact with the double bond of the allyl side chain. Only this arrangement enabled the formation of allylthiocyanate, a specific product of TaTFP. Simulation of 3,4-epithiobutane nitrile formation, the second known product of TaTFP, required an alternative substrate docking arrangement in which Fe2+ interacts with the aglucone thiolate. In agreement with these results, substitution of 3L2 amino acid residues involved in the conformational change as well as exchange of critical amino acid residues of neighboring loops affected the allylthiocyanate versus epithionitrile proportion obtained upon myrosinase-catalyzed allylglucosinolate hydrolysis in the presence of TaTFP in vitro. Based on these insights, we propose that specifier proteins are catalysts that might be classified as Fe2+ -dependent lyases.
Project description:Oilseed rape and other crop plants of the family Brassicaceae contain a unique defence system known as the glucosinolate-myrosinase system or the 'mustard oil bomb'. The 'mustard oil bomb' which includes myrosinase and glucosinolates is triggered by abiotic and biotic stress, resulting in the formation of toxic products such as nitriles and isothiocyanates. Myrosinase is present in specialist cells known as 'myrosin cells' and can also be known as toxic mines. The myrosin cell idioblasts of Brassica napus were genetically reprogrammed to undergo controlled cell death (ablation) during seed development. These myrosin cell-free plants have been named MINELESS as they lack toxic mines. This has led to the production of oilseed rape with a significant reduction both in myrosinase levels and in the hydrolysis of glucosinolates. Even though the myrosinase activity in MINELESS was very low compared with the wild type, variation was observed. This variability was overcome by producing homozygous seeds. A microspore culture technique involving non-fertile haploid MINELESS plants was developed and these plants were treated with colchicine to produce double haploid MINELESS plants with full fertility. Double haploid MINELESS plants had significantly reduced myrosinase levels and glucosinolate hydrolysis products. Wild-type and MINELESS plants exhibited significant differences in growth parameters such as plant height, leaf traits, matter accumulation, and yield parameters. The growth and developmental pattern of MINELESS plants was relatively slow compared with the wild type. The characteristics of the pure double haploid MINELESS plant are described and its importance for future biochemical, agricultural, dietary, functional genomics, and plant defence studies is discussed.