Extending a Single Residue Switch for Abbreviating Catalysis in Plant ent-Kaurene Synthases.
ABSTRACT: Production of ent-kaurene as a precursor for important signaling molecules such as the gibberellins seems to have arisen early in plant evolution, with corresponding cyclase(s) present in all land plants (i.e., embryophyta). The relevant enzymes seem to represent fusion of the class II diterpene cyclase that produces the intermediate ent-copalyl diphosphate (ent-CPP) and the subsequently acting class I diterpene synthase that produces ent-kaurene, although the bifunctionality of the ancestral gene is only retained in certain early diverging plants, with gene duplication and sub-functionalization leading to distinct ent-CPP synthases and ent-kaurene synthases (KSs) generally observed. This evolutionary scenario implies that plant KSs should have conserved structural features uniquely required for production of ent-kaurene relative to related enzymes that have alternative function. Notably, substitution of threonine for a conserved isoleucine has been shown to "short-circuit" the complex bicyclization and rearrangement reaction catalyzed by KSs after initial cyclization, leading to predominant production of ent-pimaradiene, at least in KSs from angiosperms. Here this effect is shown to extend to KSs from earlier diverging plants (i.e., bryophytes), including a bifunctional/KS. In addition, attribution of the dramatic effect of this single residue "switch" on product outcome to electrostatic stabilization of the ent-pimarenyl carbocation intermediate formed upon initial cyclization by the hydroxyl introduced by threonine substitution has been called into question by the observation of similar effects from substitution of alanine. Here further mutational analysis and detailed product analysis is reported that supports the importance of electrostatic stabilization by a hydroxyl or water.
Project description:Terpene synthases often catalyze complex cyclization reactions that typically represent the committed step in particular biosynthetic pathways, leading to great interest in their enzymatic mechanisms. We have recently demonstrated that substitution of a specific Ile with Thr was sufficient to "short circuit" the complex cyclization reaction normally catalyzed by ent-kaurene synthases to instead produce ent-pimaradiene. Here we report that the complex cyclization/rearrangement reaction catalyzed by abietadiene synthase can be similarly cut short to produce pimaradienes by an analogous Ser for Ala change, albeit with a slight shift in active site location to accommodate the difference in substrate stereochemistry. This result has mechanistic implications for enzymatic catalysis of abietadiene cyclization, and terpene synthases more broadly. Furthermore, these defined single residue switches may be useful in engineering product outcome in diterpene synthases more generally.
Project description:Labdane-related diterpenoids form the largest group among the diterpenes. They fulfill important functions in primary metabolism as essential plant growth hormones and are known to function in secondary metabolism as, for example, phytoalexins. The biosynthesis of labdane-related diterpenes is mediated by the action of class II and class I diterpene synthases. Although terpene synthases have been well investigated in poplar, little is known about diterpene formation in this woody perennial plant species.The recently sequenced genome of Populus trichocarpa possesses two putative copalyl diphosphate synthase genes (CPS, class II) and two putative kaurene synthase genes (KS, class I), which most likely arose through a genome duplication and a recent tandem gene duplication, respectively. We showed that the CPS-like gene PtTPS17 encodes an ent-copalyl diphosphate synthase (ent-CPS), while the protein encoded by the putative CPS gene PtTPS18 showed no enzymatic activity. The putative kaurene synthases PtTPS19 and PtTPS20 both accepted ent-copalyl diphosphate (ent-CPP) as substrate. However, despite their high sequence similarity, they produced different diterpene products. While PtTPS19 formed exclusively ent-kaurene, PtTPS20 generated mainly the diterpene alcohol, 16?-hydroxy-ent-kaurane. Using homology-based structure modeling and site-directed mutagenesis, we demonstrated that one amino acid residue determines the different product specificity of PtTPS19 and PtTPS20. A reciprocal exchange of methionine 607 and threonine 607 in the active sites of PtTPS19 and PtTPS20, respectively, led to a complete interconversion of the enzyme product profiles. Gene expression analysis revealed that the diterpene synthase genes characterized showed organ-specific expression with the highest abundance of PtTPS17 and PtTPS20 transcripts in poplar roots.The poplar diterpene synthases PtTPS17, PtTPS19, and PtTPS20 contribute to the production of ent-kaurene and 16?-hydroxy-ent-kaurane in poplar. While ent-kaurene most likely serves as the universal precursor for gibberellins, the function of 16?-hydroxy-ent-kaurane in poplar is not known yet. However, the high expression levels of PtTPS20 and PtTPS17 in poplar roots may indicate an important function of 16?-hydroxy-ent-kaurane in secondary metabolism in this plant organ.
Project description:The labdane-related diterpenoids (LRDs) are an important superfamily of natural products whose structural diversity critically depends on the hydrocarbon skeletal structures generated, in large part, by class I diterpene synthases. In the plant kingdom, where the LRDs are predominantly found, the relevant class I diterpene synthases are clearly derived from the ent-kaurene synthase (KS) required in all land plants for phytohormone biosynthesis and, hence, are often termed KS-like (KSL). Previous work, initiated by the distinct function of two alleles of a KSL from rice, OsKSL5, identified a single residue switch with a profound effect on not only OsKSL5 product outcome but also that of land plant KSs more broadly, specifically, replacement of a key isoleucine with threonine, which interrupts formation of the tetracyclic ent-isokaurene at the tricyclic stage, leading to production of ent-pimaradiene instead. Here, further studies of these alleles led to discovery of another, nearby residue that tunes product outcome. Substitution for this newly identified residue is additionally shown to exert an epistatic effect in KSs, altering product distribution only if combined with replacement of the key isoleucine. On the other hand, this pair of residues was found to exert additive effects on the product outcome mediated by distantly related KSLs from the eudicot castor bean. Accordingly, it was possible to use a rational combination of substitutions for this pair of residues to engineer significantly increased (dominant) selectivity for novel 8?-hydroxy-ent-pimar-15-ene product outcome in the KS from the dicot Arabidopsis thaliana, demonstrating the utility of these results.
Project description:It has become apparent that plants have extensively diversified their arsenal of labdane-related diterpenoids (LRDs), in part via gene duplication and neo-functionalization of the ancestral ent-kaurene synthase (KS) required for gibberellin metabolism. For example, castor bean (Ricinus communis) was previously shown to produce an interesting set of biosynthetically related diterpenes, specifically ent-sandracopimaradiene, ent-beyerene, and ent-trachylobane, in addition to ent-kaurene, using four separate diterpene synthases, albeit these remain unidentified. Notably, despite mechanistic similarity of the underlying reaction to that catalyzed by KSs, ent-beyerene and ent-trachylobane synthases have not yet been identified. Given our interest in LRD biosynthesis, and the recent availability of the castor bean genome sequence, a synthetic biology approach was applied to biochemically characterize the four KS(-like) enzymes [KS(L)s] found in Ricinus communis [i.e., the RcKS(L)s]. In particular, using bacteria engineered to produce the relevant ent-copalyl diphosphate precursor and synthetic genes based on the predicted RcKS(L)s, although this ultimately required correction of a "splicing" error in one of the predicted genes, highlighting the dependence of such a synthetic biology approach on accurate gene sequences. Nevertheless, it is possible to assign each of the four RcKS(L)s to one of the previously observed diterpene synthase activities, providing access to functionally enzymes. Intriguingly, the product distribution of the RcKS(L)s seems to support the distinct diterpene synthase reaction mechanism proposed by quantum chemical calculations, rather than the classically proposed pathway.
Project description:We report the first X-ray crystal structure of ent-kaur-16-ene synthase from Bradyrhizobium japonicum, together with the results of a site-directed mutagenesis investigation into catalytic activity. The structure is very similar to that of the ? domains of modern plant terpene cyclases, a result that is of interest since it has been proposed that many plant terpene cyclases may have arisen from bacterial diterpene cyclases. The ent-copalyl diphosphate substrate binds to a hydrophobic pocket near a cluster of Asp and Arg residues that are essential for catalysis, with the carbocations formed on ionization being protected by Leu, Tyr and Phe residues. A bisphosphonate inhibitor binds to the same site. In the kaurene synthase from the moss Physcomitrella patens, 16-?-hydroxy-ent-kaurane as well as kaurene are produced since Leu and Tyr in the P. patens kaurene synthase active site are replaced by smaller residues enabling carbocation quenching by water. Overall, the results represent the first structure determination of a bacterial diterpene cyclase, providing insights into catalytic activity, as well as structural comparisons with diverse terpene synthases and cyclases which clearly separate the terpene cyclases from other terpene synthases having highly ?-helical structures.
Project description:Aconitum carmichaelii is a high-value medicinal herb widely used across China, Japan, and other Asian countries. Aconitine-type diterpene alkaloids (DAs) are the characteristic compounds in Aconitum. Although six transcriptomes, based on short-read next generation sequencing technology, have been reported from the Aconitum species, the terpene synthase (TPS) corresponding to DAs biosynthesis remains unidentified. We apply a combination of Pacbio isoform sequencing and RNA sequencing to provide a comprehensive view of the A. carmichaelii transcriptome. Nineteen TPSs and five alternative splicing isoforms belonging to TPS-b, TPS-c, and TPS-e/f subfamilies were identified. In vitro enzyme reaction analysis functional identified two sesqui-TPSs and twelve diTPSs. Seven of the TPS-c subfamily genes reacted with GGPP to produce the intermediate ent-copalyl diphosphate. Five AcKSLs separately reacted with ent-CPP to produce ent-kaurene, ent-atiserene, and ent-13-epi-sandaracopimaradie: a new diterpene found in Aconitum. AcTPSs gene expression in conjunction DAs content analysis in different tissues validated that ent-CPP is the sole precursor to all DAs biosynthesis, with AcKSL1, AcKSL2s and AcKSL3-1 responsible for C20 atisine and napelline type DAs biosynthesis, respectively. These data clarified the molecular basis for the C20-DAs biosynthetic pathway in A. carmichaelii and pave the way for further exploration of C19-DAs biosynthesis in the Aconitum species. Graphical abstract A Pacbio full-length transcriptome of Aconitum carmichaelii were publicly available. Twelve diterpene synthases were functional identified to responsible for atisine, napelline type diterpene alkaloids (DAs) and ent-13-epi-sandaracopimaradie biosynthesis, respectively.Image 1
Project description:All land plants contain at least one class II diterpene cyclase (DTC), which utilize an acid-base catalytic mechanism, for the requisite production of ent-copalyl diphosphate (ent-CPP) in gibberellin A (GA) phytohormone biosynthesis. These ent-CPP synthases (CPSs) are hypothesized to be derived from ancient bacterial origins and, in turn, to have given rise to the frequently observed additional DTCs utilized in more specialized plant metabolism. However, such gene duplication and neo-functionalization has occurred repeatedly, reducing the utility of phylogenetic analyses. Support for evolutionary scenarios can be found in more specific conservation of key enzymatic features. While DTCs generally utilize a DxDD motif as the catalytic acid, the identity of the catalytic base seems to vary depending, at least in part, on product outcome. The CPS from Arabidopsis thaliana has been found to utilize a histidine-asparagine dyad to ligate a water molecule that serves as the catalytic base, with alanine substitution leading to the production of 8?-hydroxy-ent-CPP. Here this dyad and effect of Ala substitution is shown to be specifically conserved in plant CPSs involved in GA biosynthesis, providing insight into plant DTC evolution and assisting functional assignment. Even more strikingly, while GA biosynthesis arose independently in plant-associated bacteria and fungi, the catalytic base dyad also is specifically found in the relevant bacterial, but not fungal, CPSs. This suggests functional conservation of CPSs from bacteria to plants, presumably reflecting an early role for derived diterpenoids in both plant development and plant-microbe interactions, eventually leading to GA, and a speculative evolutionary scenario is presented.
Project description:Two of the most agriculturally important cereal crop plants are wheat (Triticum aestivum) and rice (Oryza sativa). Rice has been shown to produce a number of diterpenoid natural products as phytoalexins and/or allelochemicals--specifically, labdane-related diterpenoids, whose biosynthesis proceeds via formation of an eponymous labdadienyl/copalyl diphosphate (CPP) intermediate (e.g., the ent-CPP of gibberellin phytohormone biosynthesis). Similar to rice, wheat encodes a number of CPP synthases (CPS), and the three CPS characterized to date (TaCPS1-3) all have been suggested to produce ent-CPP. However, several of the downstream diterpene synthases will only react with CPP intermediate of normal or syn, but not ent, stereochemistry, as described in the accompanying report. Investigation of additional CPS did not resolve this issue, as the only other functional synthase (TaCPS4) also produced ent-CPP. Chiral product characterization of all the TaCPS then established that TaCPS2 uniquely produces normal, rather than ent-, CPP, thus, providing a suitable substrate source for the downstream diterpene synthases. Notably, TaCPS2 is most homologous to the similarly stereochemically differentiated syn-CPP synthase from rice (OsCPS4), while the non-inducible TaCPS3 and TaCPS4 cluster with the rice OsCPS1 required for gibberellin phytohormone biosynthesis, as well as with a barley (Hordeum vulgare) CPS (HvCPS1) that also is characterized here as similarly producing ent-CPP. These results suggest that diversification of labdane-related diterpenoid metabolism beyond the ancestral gibberellins occurred early in cereal evolution, and included the type of stereochemical variation demonstrated here.
Project description:Wheat (Triticum aestivum) and rice (Oryza sativa) are two of the most agriculturally important cereal crop plants. Rice is known to produce numerous diterpenoid natural products that serve as phytoalexins and/or allelochemicals. Specifically, these are labdane-related diterpenoids, derived from a characteristic labdadienyl/copalyl diphosphate (CPP), whose biosynthetic relationship to gibberellin biosynthesis is evident from the relevant expanded and functionally diverse family of ent-kaurene synthase-like (KSL) genes found in rice the (OsKSLs). Herein reported is the biochemical characterization of a similarly expansive family of KSL from wheat (the TaKSLs). In particular, beyond ent-kaurene synthases (KS), wheat also contains several biochemically diversified KSLs. These react either with the ent-CPP intermediate common to gibberellin biosynthesis or with the normal stereoisomer of CPP that also is found in wheat (as demonstrated by the accompanying paper describing the wheat CPP synthases). Comparison with a barley (Hordeum vulgare) KS indicates conservation of monocot KS, with early and continued expansion and functional diversification of KSLs in at least the small grain cereals. In addition, some of the TaKSLs that utilize normal CPP also will react with syn-CPP, echoing previous findings with the OsKSL family, with such enzymatic promiscuity/elasticity providing insight into the continuing evolution of diterpenoid metabolism in the cereal crop plant family, as well as more generally, which is discussed here.
Project description:Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge is highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine for its roots and rhizomes. Its bioactive diterpenoid tanshinones have been reported to have many pharmaceutical activities, including antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. Previous studies found four different diterpenoid biosynthetic pathways from the universal diterpenoid precursor (E,E,E)-geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) in S. miltiorrhiza. Here, we describe the functional characterization of ent-copalyl diphosphate synthase (SmCPSent), kaurene synthase (SmKS) and kaurene oxidase (SmKO) in the gibberellin (GA) biosynthetic pathway. SmCPSent catalyzes the cyclization of GGPP to ent-copalyl diphosphate (ent-CPP), which is converted to ent-kaurene by SmKS. Then, SmKO catalyzes the three-step oxidation of ent-kaurene to ent-kaurenoic acid. Our results show that the fused enzyme SmKS-SmCPSent increases ent-kaurene production by several fold compared with separate expression of SmCPSent and SmKS in yeast strains. In this study, we clarify the GA biosynthetic pathway from GGPP to ent-kaurenoic acid and provide a foundation for further characterization of the subsequent enzymes involved in this pathway. These insights may allow for better growth and the improved accumulation of bioactive tanshinones in S. miltiorrhiza through the regulation of the expression of these genes during developmental processes.