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Molecular characterization of root-specific chalcone synthases from Cassia alata

Author(s): Samappito S, Page J, Schmidt J, De-Eknamkul W, Kutchan TM

Abstract

Three cDNAs encoding very similar but unique isoforms of chalcone synthase (EC 2.3.1.74) were isolated from a cDNA library prepared from RNA from root tissue of the Thai medicinal plant Cassia alata L. (ringworm bush, Leguminosae). Gene transcript for these three type-III polyketide synthases was found to accumulate predominantly in roots. The heterologously expressed enzymes accepted acetyl-, n-butyryl-, isovaleryl-, n-hexanoyl-, benzoyl-, cinnamoyl-, and p-coumaroyl-CoA as starter molecules and together with the co-substrate malonyl-CoA, formed multiple products. With the exception of the assay in which acetyl-CoA was used as the starter molecule, all substrates yielded a phloroglucinol derivative resulting from three sequential condensations of acetate units derived from three malonyl-CoA decarboxylations. Every substrate tested also produced two pyrone derivatives, one resulting from two acetate unit condensations (a bis-noryangonin-type pyrone derailment product) and one resulting from three acetate unit condensations (a 4-coumaroyltriacetic acid lactone-type pyrone derailment). C. alata accumulates the flavonoids quercetin, naringenin and kaempferol in roots, suggesting that the in planta function of these enzymes is the biosynthesis of root flavonoids.

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