Structural diversification during glucosinolate breakdown: mechanisms of thiocyanate, epithionitrile and simple nitrile formation.
ABSTRACT: 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: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 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 <i>Arabidopsis thaliana</i> 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 <i>NSP</i> genes demonstrated, that simple nitrile formation upon tissue disruption depended almost entirely on <i>NSP2</i> in seeds and mainly on <i>NSP1</i> in seedlings. In roots, about 70-80% of the nitrile-forming activity was due to <i>NSP1</i> and <i>NSP3</i>. Thus, glucosinolate breakdown product profiles are organ-specifically regulated in <i>A. thaliana</i> 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: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:Floret, leaf, and root tissues were harvested from broccoli and collard cultivars and extracted to determine their glucosinolate and hydrolysis product profiles using high performance liquid chromatography and gas chromotography. Quinone reductase inducing bioactivity, an estimate of anti-cancer chemopreventive potential, of the extracts was measured using a hepa1c1c7 murine cell line. Extracts from root tissues were significantly different from other tissues and contained high levels of gluconasturtiin and glucoerucin. Targeted gene expression analysis on glucosinolate biosynthesis revealed that broccoli root tissue has elevated gene expression of AOP2 and low expression of FMOGS-OX homologs, essentially the opposite of what was observed in broccoli florets, which accumulated high levels of glucoraphanin. Broccoli floret tissue has significantly higher nitrile formation (%) and epithionitrile specifier protein gene expression than other tissues. This study provides basic information of the glucosinolate metabolome and transcriptome for various tissues of Brassica oleracea that maybe utilized as potential byproducts for the nutraceutical market.
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:Glucosinolates are a group of thioglucosides in plants of the Brassicales order. Together with their hydrolytic enzymes, the myrosinases, they constitute the 'mustard oil bomb' involved in plant defense. Here we summarize recent studies in Arabidopsis that have provided molecular evidence that the glucosinolate-myrosinase system is much more than a 'two-component defense system,' and started to unravel the roles of different glucosinolate breakdown pathways in the context of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Project description:A new, very efficient, class of thioglycoside substrates has been found for ?-glucosidase. While thioglycosides are usually resistant to hydrolysis, even in the presence of acids or most glycohydrolases, the ?-D-glucopyranosides of 2-mercaptobenzimidazole (GlcSBiz) and 2-mercaptobenzoxazole (GlcSBox) have been found to be excellent substrates for ?-glucosidase from both sweet almond (a family 1 glycohydrolase) and Aspergillus niger (a family 3 glycohydrolase), reacting nearly as well as p-nitrophenyl ?-D-glucoside. The enzyme-catalyzed hydrolysis of GlcSBiz proceeds with retention of configuration. As with the (1000-fold slower) hydrolysis of phenyl thioglucosides catalyzed by the almond enzyme, the pL (pH/pD)-independent kcat/KM does not show a detectable solvent deuterium kinetic isotope effect (SKIE), but unlike the hydrolysis of phenyl thioglucosides, a modest SKIE is seen on kcat [(D2O)kcat=1.28 (±0.06)] at the pL optimum (5.5?pL?6.6). A solvent isotope effect is also seen on the KM for the N-methyl analog of GlcSBiz. These results suggest that the mechanism for the hydrolysis of the ?-thioglucoside of 2-mercaptobenzimidazole and of 2-mercaptobenzoxazole involves remote site protonation (at the ring nitrogen) followed by cleavage of the thioglucosidic bond resulting in the thione product.
Project description:The association of cabbage white butterflies (Pieris spec., Lepidoptera: Pieridae) with their glucosinolate-containing host plants represents a well-investigated example of the sequential evolution of plant defenses and insect herbivore counteradaptations. The defensive potential of glucosinolates, a group of amino acid-derived thioglucosides present in plants of the Brassicales order, arises mainly from their rapid breakdown upon tissue disruption resulting in formation of toxic isothiocyanates. Larvae of P. rapae are able to feed exclusively on glucosinolate-containing plants due to expression of a nitrile-specifier protein in their gut which redirects glucosinolate breakdown to the formation of nitriles. The release of equimolar amounts of cyanide upon further metabolism of the benzylglucosinolate-derived nitrile suggests that the larvae are also equipped with efficient means of cyanide detoxification such as ?-cyanoalanine synthases or rhodaneses. While insect ?-cyanoalanine synthases have recently been identified at the molecular level, no sequence information was available of characterized insect rhodaneses. Here, we identify and characterize two single-domain rhodaneses from P. rapae, PrTST1 and PrTST2. The enzymes differ in their kinetic properties, predicted subcellular localization and expression in P. rapae indicating different physiological roles. Phylogenetic analysis together with putative lepidopteran rhodanese sequences indicates an expansion of the rhodanese family in Pieridae.
Project description:The structure of the ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide product mycofactocin is unknown. Recently, the first step in mycofactocin biosynthesis was shown to be catalyzed by MftC in two S-adenosylmethionine-dependent steps. In the first step, MftC catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of the MftA peptide to produce the styrene-containing intermediate MftA**, followed by a subsequent C-C bond formation to yield the lactam-containing MftA*. Here, we demonstrate the subsequent biosynthetic step catalyzed by MftE is specific for MftA*. The hydrolysis of MftA* leads to the formation of MftA(1-28) and 3-amino-5-[( p-hydroxyphenyl)methyl]-4,4-dimethyl-2-pyrrolidinone (AHDP). The hydrolysis reaction is Fe2+-dependent, and addition of the metal to the reaction mixture leads to a kobs of ?0.2 min-1. Lastly, we validate the structure of AHDP by 1H, 13C, and COSY nuclear magnetic resonance techniques as well as mass spectrometry.