Canadian Forest Service Publications

Evolution of diterpene metabolism: Sitka spruce CYP720B4 catalyzes multiple oxidations in resin acid biosynthesis of conifer defense against insects. 2011. Hamberger, B.; Ohnishi, T.; Hamberger, B.; Séguin, A.; Bohlmann, J. Plant Physiol. 157:1677-1695.

Year: 2011

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32938

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1104/pp.111.185843

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Diterpene resin acids (DRAs) are specialized (secondary) metabolites of the oleoresin defense of conifers produced by diterpene synthases and cytochrome P450s of the CYP720B family. The evolution of DRA metabolism shares common origins with the biosynthesis of ent-kaurenoic acid, which is highly conserved in general (primary) metabolism of gibberellin biosynthesis. Transcriptome mining in species of spruce (Picea) and pine (Pinus) revealed CYP720Bs of four distinct clades. We cloned a comprehensive set of 12 different Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) CYP720Bs as full-length cDNAs. Spatial expression profiles, methyl jasmonate induction, and transcript enrichment in terpenoid-producing resin ducts suggested a role of CYP720B4 in DRA biosynthesis. CYP720B4 was characterized as a multisubstrate, multifunctional enzyme by the formation of oxygenated diterpenoids in metabolically engineered yeast, yeast in vivo transformation of diterpene substrates, in vitro assays with CYP720B4 protein produced in Escherichia coli, and alteration of DRA profiles in RNA interference-suppressed spruce seedlings. CYP720B4 was active with 24 different diterpenoid substrates, catalyzing consecutive C-18 oxidations in the biosynthesis of an array of diterpene alcohols, aldehydes, and acids. CYP720B4 was most active in the formation of dehydroabietic acid, a compound associated with insect resistance of Sitka spruce. We identified patterns of convergent evolution of CYP720B4 in DRA metabolism and ent-kaurene oxidase CYP701 in gibberellin metabolism and revealed differences in the evolution of specialized and general diterpene metabolism in a gymnosperm. The genomic and functional characterization of the gymnosperm CYP720B family highlights that the evolution of specialized metabolism involves substantial diversification relative to conserved, general metabolism.