Dhurrin metabolism in the developing grain of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench investigated by metabolite profiling and novel clustering analyses of time-resolved transcriptomic data.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The important cereal crop Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench biosynthesize and accumulate the defensive compound dhurrin during development. Previous work has suggested multiple roles for the compound including a function as nitrogen storage/buffer. Crucial for this function is the endogenous turnover of dhurrin for which putative pathways have been suggested but not confirmed. RESULTS:In this study, the biosynthesis and endogenous turnover of dhurrin in the developing sorghum grain was studied by metabolite profiling and time-resolved transcriptome analyses. Dhurrin was found to accumulate in the early phase of grain development reaching maximum amounts 25 days after pollination. During the subsequent maturation period, the dhurrin content was turned over, resulting in only negligible residual dhurrin amounts in the mature grain. Dhurrin accumulation correlated with the transcript abundance of the three genes involved in biosynthesis. Despite the accumulation of dhurrin, the grains were acyanogenic as demonstrated by the lack of hydrogen cyanide release from macerated grain tissue and by the absence of transcripts encoding dhurrinases. With the missing activity of dhurrinases, the decrease in dhurrin content in the course of grain maturation represents the operation of hitherto uncharacterized endogenous dhurrin turnover pathways. Evidence for the operation of two such pathways was obtained by metabolite profiling and time-resolved transcriptome analysis. By combining cluster- and phylogenetic analyses with the metabolite profiling, potential gene candidates of glutathione S-transferases, nitrilases and glycosyl transferases involved in these pathways were identified. The absence of dhurrin in the mature grain was replaced by a high content of proanthocyanidins. Cluster- and phylogenetic analyses coupled with metabolite profiling, identified gene candidates involved in proanthocyanidin biosynthesis in sorghum. CONCLUSIONS:The results presented in this article reveal the existence of two endogenous dhurrin turnover pathways in sorghum, identify genes putatively involved in these transformations and show that dhurrin in addition to its insect deterrent properties may serve as a storage form of reduced nitrogen. In the course of sorghum grain maturation, proanthocyanidins replace dhurrin as a defense compound. The lack of cyanogenesis in the developing sorghum grain renders this a unique experimental system to study CNglc synthesis as well as endogenous turnover.
Project description:Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.)) Moench is an important food for humans and feed for livestock. Sorghum contains dhurrin which can be degraded into toxic hydrogen cyanide. Here, we report the expression patterns of 14 candidate genes related to dhurrin ((S)-4-Hydroxymandelnitrile-?-D-glucopyranoside) metabolism and the effects of the gene expression on specific metabolite content in selected sorghum accessions. Dhurrin-related metabolism is vigorous in the early stages of development of sorghum. The dhurrin contents of most accessions tested were in the range of approximately 6-22 ?g mg-1 fresh leaf tissue throughout growth. The p-hydroxybenzaldehyde (pHB) contents were high at seedling stages, but almost nonexistent at adult stages. The contents of p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid (pHPAAc) were relatively low throughout growth compared to those of dhurrin or pHB. Generally, the expression of the candidate genes was higher at seedling stage than at other stages and decreased gradually as plants grew. In addition, we identified significant SNPs, and six of them were potentially associated with non-synonymous changes in CAS1. Our results may provide the basis for choosing breeding materials to regulate cyanide contents in sorghum varieties to prevent HCN toxicity of livestock or to promote drought tolerance or pathogen resistance.
Project description:Sorghum grains with different applications had different phenolic profiles, which were corresponded to various antioxidant capacities. In this study, total phenolic, proanthocyanidins and flavonoids contents, as well as contents of individual phenolic compounds from sorghum grains with various applications were determined, and their antioxidant capacities were evaluated. Total phenolic contents (TPC) and total proanthocyanidins contents (TPAC) showed strong correlation with antioxidant activities (r > 0.95, p < 0.01). Hongyingzi (S-1), one of the brewing sorghums, showed the highest level of TPC and TPAC, while white grain sorghum (S-8) had the lowest. Except for black grain sorghum (S-7), that contained the highest contents of ferulic acid, brewing sorghum grains contained the higher contents of the most individual phenolic compounds, especially the variety S-1. The correlation among individual phenolic compounds and antioxidant activities indicated that the free forms of protocatechuic acid (r = 0.982 of FRAPassay, p < 0.01) and taxifolin (r = 0.826 of FRAP assay, p < 0.01) may be the main functional compounds. These results indicate that brewing sorghum grains can also be utilized as effective materials for functional foods.
Project description:Cyanogenic glycosides are defense compounds found in a wide range of plant species, including many crops. We demonstrate that the cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin, naturally found in sorghum, can be produced at high titers in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, constituting the first report of cyanogenic glycoside production in a microbe. Genetic modifications to increase the supply of the dhurrin precursor tyrosine enabled dhurrin production in excess of 80?mg/L. The dhurrin-producing yeast strain was used as a chassis to investigate previously uncharacterized enzymes identified close to the biosynthetic gene cluster containing the dhurrin pathway enzymes. This work shows the potential of heterologous expression in yeast to facilitate investigations of plant cyanogenic glycoside pathways.
Project description:Plant chloroplasts are light-driven cell factories that have great potential to act as a chassis for metabolic engineering applications. Using plant chloroplasts, we demonstrate how photosynthetic reducing power can drive a metabolic pathway to synthesise a bio-active natural product. For this purpose, we stably engineered the dhurrin pathway from Sorghum bicolor into the chloroplasts of Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco). Dhurrin is a cyanogenic glucoside and its synthesis from the amino acid tyrosine is catalysed by two membrane-bound cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYP79A1 and CYP71E1) and a soluble glucosyltransferase (UGT85B1), and is dependent on electron transfer from a P450 oxidoreductase. The entire pathway was introduced into the chloroplast by integrating CYP79A1, CYP71E1, and UGT85B1 into a neutral site of the N. tabacum chloroplast genome. The two P450s and the UGT85B1 were functional when expressed in the chloroplasts and converted endogenous tyrosine into dhurrin using electrons derived directly from the photosynthetic electron transport chain, without the need for the presence of an NADPH-dependent P450 oxidoreductase. The dhurrin produced in the engineered plants amounted to 0.1-0.2% of leaf dry weight compared to 6% in sorghum. The results obtained pave the way for plant P450s involved in the synthesis of economically important compounds to be engineered into the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts, and demonstrate that their full catalytic cycle can be driven directly by photosynthesis-derived electrons.
Project description:Members of the nitrilase 4 (NIT4) family of higher plants catalyze the conversion of beta-cyanoalanine to aspartic acid and asparagine, a key step in cyanide detoxification. Grasses (Poaceae) possess two different NIT4 homologs (NIT4A and NIT4B), but none of the recombinant Poaceae enzymes analyzed showed activity with beta-cyanoalanine, whereas protein extracts of the same plants clearly posses this activity. Sorghum bicolor contains three NIT4 isoforms SbNIT4A, SbNIT4B1, and SbNIT4B2. Individually, each isoform does not possess enzymatic activity whereas the heteromeric complexes SbNIT4A/B1 and SbNIT4A/B2 hydrolyze beta-cyanoalanine with high activity. In addition, the SbNIT4A/B2 complex accepts additional substrates, the best being 4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile. Corresponding NIT4A and NIT4B isoforms from other Poaceae species can functionally complement the sorghum isoforms in these complexes. Site-specific mutagenesis of the active site cysteine residue demonstrates that hydrolysis of beta-cyanoalanine is catalyzed by the NIT4A isoform in both complexes whereas hydrolysis of 4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile occurs at the NIT4B2 isoform. 4-Hydroxyphenylacetonitrile was shown to be an in vitro breakdown product of the cyanogenic glycoside dhurrin, a main constituent in S. bicolor. The results indicate that the SbNIT4A/B2 heterocomplex plays a key role in an endogenous turnover of dhurrin proceeding via 4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile and thereby avoiding release of toxic hydrogen cyanide. The operation of this pathway would enable plants to use cyanogenic glycosides as transportable and remobilizable nitrogenous storage compounds. Through combinatorial biochemistry and neofunctionalizations, the small family of nitrilases has gained diverse biological functions in nitrile metabolism.
Project description:Herbicide safeners protect cereal crops from herbicide injury by inducing genes and proteins involved in detoxification reactions, such as glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) and cytochrome P450s (P450s). Only a few studies have characterized gene or protein expression profiles for investigating plant responses to safener treatment in cereal crops, and most transcriptome analyses in response to safener treatments have been conducted in dicot model species that are not protected by safener from herbicide injury. In this study, three different approaches were utilized in grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) to investigate mechanisms involved in safener-regulated signaling pathways. An initial transcriptome analysis was performed to examine global gene expression in etiolated shoot tissues of hybrid grain sorghum following treatment with the sorghum safener, fluxofenim. Most upregulated transcripts encoded detoxification enzymes, including P450s, GSTs, and UDP-dependent glucosyltransferases (UGTs). Interestingly, several of these upregulated transcripts are similar to genes involved with the biosynthesis and recycling/catabolism of dhurrin, an important chemical defense compound, in these seedling tissues. Secondly, 761 diverse sorghum inbred lines were evaluated in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to determine key molecular-genetic factors governing safener-mediated signaling mechanisms and/or herbicide detoxification. GWAS revealed a significant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with safener-induced response on chromosome 9, located within a phi-class SbGST gene and about 15-kb from a different phi-class SbGST. Lastly, the expression of these two candidate SbGSTs was quantified in etiolated shoot tissues of sorghum inbred BTx623 in response to fluxofenim treatment. SbGSTF1 and SbGSTF2 transcripts increased within 12-hr after fluxofenim treatment but the level of safener-induced expression differed between the two genes. In addition to identifying specific GSTs potentially involved in the safener-mediated detoxification pathway, this research elucidates a new direction for studying both constitutive and inducible mechanisms for chemical defense in cereal crop seedlings.
Project description:Focused and nontargeted approaches were used to assess the impact associated with introduction of new high-flux pathways in Arabidopsis thaliana by genetic engineering. Transgenic A. thaliana plants expressing the entire biosynthetic pathway for the tyrosine-derived cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin as accomplished by insertion of CYP79A1, CYP71E1, and UGT85B1 from Sorghum bicolor were shown to accumulate 4% dry-weight dhurrin with marginal inadvertent effects on plant morphology, free amino acid pools, transcriptome, and metabolome. In a similar manner, plants expressing only CYP79A1 accumulated 3% dry weight of the tyrosine-derived glucosinolate, p-hydroxybenzylglucosinolate with no morphological pleitropic effects. In contrast, insertion of CYP79A1 plus CYP71E1 resulted in stunted plants, transcriptome alterations, accumulation of numerous glucosides derived from detoxification of intermediates in the dhurrin pathway, and in loss of the brassicaceae-specific UV protectants sinapoyl glucose and sinapoyl malate and kaempferol glucosides. The accumulation of glucosides in the plants expressing CYP79A1 and CYP71E1 was not accompanied by induction of glycosyltransferases, demonstrating that plants are constantly prepared to detoxify xenobiotics. The pleiotrophic effects observed in plants expressing sorghum CYP79A1 and CYP71E1 were complemented by retransformation with S. bicolor UGT85B. These results demonstrate that insertion of high-flux pathways directing synthesis and intracellular storage of high amounts of a cyanogenic glucoside or a glucosinolate is achievable in transgenic A. thaliana plants with marginal inadvertent effects on the transcriptome and metabolome.
Project description:Genomic gene clusters for the biosynthesis of chemical defence compounds are increasingly identified in plant genomes. We previously reported the independent evolution of biosynthetic gene clusters for cyanogenic glucoside biosynthesis in three plant lineages. Here we report that the gene cluster for the cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin in Sorghum bicolor additionally contains a gene, SbMATE2, encoding a transporter of the multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) family, which is co-expressed with the biosynthetic genes. The predicted localisation of SbMATE2 to the vacuolar membrane was demonstrated experimentally by transient expression of a SbMATE2-YFP fusion protein and confocal microscopy. Transport studies in Xenopus laevis oocytes demonstrate that SbMATE2 is able to transport dhurrin. In addition, SbMATE2 was able to transport non-endogenous cyanogenic glucosides, but not the anthocyanin cyanidin 3-O-glucoside or the glucosinolate indol-3-yl-methyl glucosinolate. The genomic co-localisation of a transporter gene with the biosynthetic genes producing the transported compound is discussed in relation to the role self-toxicity of chemical defence compounds may play in the formation of gene clusters.
Project description:Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench produces the nitrogen-containing natural product dhurrin that provides chemical defense against herbivores and pathogens via the release of toxic hydrogen cyanide gas. Drought can increase dhurrin in shoot tissues to concentrations toxic to livestock. As dhurrin is also a remobilizable store of reduced nitrogen and plays a role in stress mitigation, reductions in dhurrin may come at a cost to plant growth and stress tolerance. Here, we investigated the response to an extended period of water limitation in a unique EMS-mutant adult cyanide deficient class 1 (acdc1) that has a low dhurrin content in the leaves of mature plants. A mutant sibling line was included to assess the impact of unknown background mutations. Plants were grown under three watering regimes using a gravimetric platform, with growth parameters and dhurrin and nitrate concentrations assessed over four successive harvests. Tissue type was an important determinant of dhurrin and nitrate concentrations, with the response to water limitation differing between above and below ground tissues. Water limitation increased dhurrin concentration in the acdc1 shoots to the same extent as in wild-type plants and no growth advantage or disadvantage between the lines was observed. Lower dhurrin concentrations in the acdc1 leaf tissue when fully watered correlated with an increase in nitrate content in the shoot and roots of the mutant. In targeted breeding efforts to down-regulate dhurrin concentration, parallel effects on the level of stored nitrates should be considered in all vegetative tissues of this important forage crop to avoid potential toxic effects.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) is a rich source of natural phytochemicals. We performed massive parallel sequencing of mRNA to identify differentially expressed genes after sorghum BTx623 had been infected with Bipolaris sorghicola, a necrotrophic fungus causing a sorghum disease called target leaf spot. RESULT: Seventy-six-base-pair reads from mRNAs of mock- or pathogen-infected leaves were sequenced. Unannotated transcripts were predicted on the basis of the piling-up of mapped short reads. Differentially expressed genes were identified statistically; particular genes in tandemly duplicated putative paralogs were highly upregulated. Pathogen infection activated the glyoxylate shunt in the TCA cycle; this changes the role of the TCA cycle from energy production to synthesis of cell components. The secondary metabolic pathways of phytoalexin synthesis and of sulfur-dependent detoxification were activated by upregulation of the genes encoding amino acid metabolizing enzymes located at the branch point between primary and secondary metabolism. Coordinated gene expression could guide the metabolic pathway for accumulation of the sorghum-specific phytochemicals 3-deoxyanthocyanidin and dhurrin. Key enzymes for synthesizing these sorghum-specific phytochemicals were not found in the corresponding region of the rice genome. CONCLUSION: Pathogen infection dramatically changed the expression of particular paralogs that putatively encode enzymes involved in the sorghum-specific metabolic network.