- Functional characterization of various algal carotenoid ketolases reveals that ketolating zeaxanthin efficiently is essential for high production of astaxanthin in transgenic Arabidopsis (2011)
- Extending the carotenoid pathway to astaxanthin in plants is of scientific and industrial interest. However, expression of a microbial beta-carotene ketolase (BKT) that catalyses the formation of ketocarotenoids in transgenic plants typically results in low levels of astaxanthin. The low efficiency of BKTs in ketolating zeaxanthin to astaxanthin is proposed to be the major limitation for astaxanthin accumulation in engineered plants. To verify this hypothesis, several algal BKTs were functionally characterized using an Escherichia coli system and three BKTs were identified, with high (up to 85%), moderate (~38%), and low (~1%) conversion rate from zeaxanthin to astaxanthin from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (CrBKT), Chlorella zofingiensis (CzBKT), and Haematococcus pluvialis (HpBKT3), respectively. Transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing the CrBKT developed orange leaves which accumulated astaxanthin up to 2 mg g -1 dry weight with a 1.8-fold increase in total carotenoids. In contrast, the expression of CzBKT resulted in much lower astaxanthin content (0.24 mg g -1 dry weight), whereas HpBKT3 was unable to mediate synthesis of astaxanthin in A. thaliana. The none-native astaxanthin was found mostly in a free form integrated into the light-harvesting complexes of photosystem II in young leaves but in esterified forms in senescent leaves. The alteration of carotenoids did not affect chlorophyll content, plant growth, or development significantly. The astaxanthin-producing plants were more tolerant to high light as shown by reduced lipid peroxidation. This study advances a decisive step towards the utilization of plants for the production of high-value astaxanthin. Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana, astaxanthin, beta-carotene ketolase, carotenoid, Haematococcus pluvialis
- Biosynthesis of fucoxanthin and diadinoxanthin and function of initial pathway genes in Phaeodactylum tricornutum (2012)
- The biosynthesis pathway to diadinoxanthin and fucoxanthin was elucidated in Phaeodactylum tricornutum by a combined approach involving metabolite analysis identification of gene function. For the initial steps leading to β-carotene, putative genes were selected from the genomic database and the function of several of them identified by genetic pathway complementation in Escherichia coli. They included genes encoding a phytoene synthase, a phytoene desaturase, a ζ-carotene desaturase, and a lycopene β-cyclase. Intermediates of the pathway beyond β-carotene, present in trace amounts, were separated by TLC and identified as violaxanthin and neoxanthin in the enriched fraction. Neoxanthin is a branching point for the synthesis of both diadinoxanthin and fucoxanthin and the mechanisms for their formation were proposed. A single isomerization of one of the allenic double bounds in neoxanthin yields diadinoxanhin. Two reactions, hydroxylation at C8 in combination with a keto-enol tautomerization and acetylation of the 3′-HO group results in the formation of fucoxanthin.
- Biocatalytic synthesis of flavones and hydroxyl-small molecules by recombinant Escherichia coli cells expressing the cyanobacterial CYP110E1 gene (2012)
- Background: Cyanobacteria possess several cytochrome P450s, but very little is known about their catalytic functions. CYP110 genes unique to cyanaobacteria are widely distributed in heterocyst-forming cyanobacteria including nitrogen-fixing genera Nostoc and Anabaena. We screened the biocatalytic functions of all P450s from three cyanobacterial strains of genus Nostoc or Anabaena using a series of small molecules that contain flavonoids, sesquiterpenes, low-molecular-weight drugs, and other aromatic compounds. Results: Escherichia coli cells carrying each P450 gene that was inserted into the pRED vector, containing the RhFRed reductase domain sequence from Rhodococcus sp. NCIMB 9784 P450RhF (CYP116B2), were co-cultured with substrates and products were identified when bioconversion reactions proceeded. Consequently, CYP110E1 of Nostoc sp. strain PCC 7120, located in close proximity to the first branch point in the phylogenetic tree of the CYP110 family, was found to be promiscuous for the substrate range mediating the biotransformation of various small molecules. Naringenin and (hydroxyl) flavanones were respectively converted to apigenin and (hydroxyl) flavones, by functioning as a flavone synthase. Such an activity is reported for the first time in prokaryotic P450s. Additionally, CYP110E1 biotransformed the notable sesquiterpene zerumbone, anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and flurbiprofen (methylester forms), and some aryl compounds such as 1-methoxy and 1-ethoxy naphthalene to produce hydroxylated compounds that are difficult to synthesize chemically, including novel compounds. Conclusion: We elucidated that the CYP110E1 gene, C-terminally fused to the P450RhF RhFRed reductase domain sequence, is functionally expressed in E. coli to synthesize a robust monooxygenase, which shows promiscuous substrate specificity (affinity) for various small molecules, allowing the biosynthesis of not only flavones (from flavanones) but also a variety of hydroxyl-small molecules that may span pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.