Abstract The brown midrib2 (bm2) mutant of maize, with a modified lignin composition, contains a mutation in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene. We here show that a MITE transposon insertion caused downregulation of MTHFR with accompanying decrease in 5-methyl-THF and increase in 5, 10-methylene-THF and THF in the bm2 mutant. Furthermore, MTHFR mutation did not change the content of SAM, the methyl group donor involved in the biosynthesis of guaiacyl (G) and syringyl (S) lignins, but increased the level of S-adenosyl homocysteine (SAH), the de-methylation product of SAM. Moreover, competitive inhibition of the maize caffeoyl CoA O-methyltransferase (CCoAOMT) and caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme activities by SAH was found, suggesting that SAH/SAM ratio rather than SAM concentration regulates the transmethylation reactions of lignin intermediates. Phenolic profiling revealed that caffeoyl alcohol glucose derivatives accumulated in the mutant, indicating impaired 3-O-methylation of monolignols. A remarkable increase in the unusual catechyl (C) lignin determined in the mutant demonstrates that MTHFR downregulation mainly affects G lignin biosynthesis, consistent with the observation that CCoAOMT is more sensitive to SAH inhibition than COMT. This study which uncovered a novel regulatory mechanism in lignin biosynthesis and may offer an effective approach to utilize lignocellulosic feedstocks in future. lignin, maize, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, methyl metabolism, S-adenosyl homocysteine, S-adenosyl methionine © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: email@example.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Journal of Experimental Botany – Oxford University Press
Published: May 30, 2018
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