Most angiosperms encode a small family of 4-coumarate:CoA-ligases (4CLs) activating hydroxycinnamic acids for lignin and flavonoid pathways. The common rue, Ruta graveolens L., additionally produces coumarins by cyclization of the 4-coumaroyl moiety, possibly involving the CoA-ester, as well as acridone and furoquinoline alkaloids relying on (N-methyl)anthraniloyl-CoA as the starter substrate for polyketide synthase condensation. The accumulation of alkaloids and coumarins, but not flavonoids, was enhanced in Ruta graveolens suspension cultures upon the addition of fungal elicitor. Total RNA of elicitor-treated Ruta cells was used as template for RT-PCR amplification with degenerate oligonucleotide primers inferred from conserved motifs in AMP-binding proteins, and two full-size cDNAs were generated through RACE and identified as 4-coumarate:CoA-ligases, Rg4CL1 and Rg4CL2, by functional expression in yeast cells. The recombinant enzymes differed considerably in their preferential affinities to cinnamate (Rg4CL1) or ferulate (RgCL2) besides 4-coumarate, but did not activate hydroxybenzoic or (N-methyl)anthranilic acid. Most notably, the Rg4CL1 polypeptide included an N-terminal extension suggesting a chloroplast transit peptide. The genes were cloned and revealed four exons, separated by 1056, 94 and 54 bp introns for RgCL1, while Rg4CL2 was composed of five exons interupted by four introns from 113 to 350 bp, and the divergent heritage of these genes was substantiated by phylogenetic analysis. Both genes were expressed in shoot, leaf and flower tissues of adult Ruta plants with preference in shoot and flower, whereas negligible expression occurred in the root. However, Rg4CL1 was expressed much stronger in the flower, while Rg4CL2 was expressed mostly in the shoot. Furthermore, considerable transient induction of only Rg4CL1 was observed upon elicitation of Ruta cells, which seems to support a role of Rg4CL1 in coumarin biosynthesis.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 2008
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