Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Gibberellin (GA) 20-oxidases are multifunctional enzymes that catalyse reactions at an important branch point in the GA biosynthetic pathway. These enzymes oxidise the C-20 methyl group of a diterpene carboxylic acid precursor (e.g. GA12) to form an alcohol (in our case GA15-open lactone) and an aldehyde (GA24). The aldehyde is either oxidised to a tricarboxylic acid (GA25) or, with loss of carbon-20 and lactonisation, to a C19-GA (GA9). This branching is interesting to study, because C19-GA derivatives function as plant hormones in different tissues, whereas the C20-GA tricarboxylic acids have no known function. We have constructed chimaeric proteins by combining a GA 20-oxidase from immature seeds of Cucurbita maxima L., which produces mainly C-20 carboxylic acids, with a 20-oxidase from Marah macrocarpus immature seeds, which forms predominantly CC19-GAs. The cDNAs encoding these two very similar 20-oxidases were digested with restriction endonucleases Van 911. Bcl 1, and Bsa WI, and six chimaeric sequences were produced by recombination of the DNA fragments. The pCM1 -construct was obtained by exchanging nt 303–809 of the Cucurbita cDNA with the homologous DNA from the March 20-oxidase. In pCM2, pCM3, pCM4, pCM5 and pCM6, nt 810–992, nt 993–end, nt 303–992, nt 810–end, and nt 311–end were exchanged, respectively. All constructs were cloned in a pUC18 vector and functionally expressed in E. coli NM522 cells. GA 20-oxidase activity was detectable in cell-lysates from the transformed E. coli, but the extent and kind of conversion depended on the construct. Highest conversion of GA12was found with pCM1 and pCM3, one-tenth of this conversion was observed with pCM5 and pCM6, and one-hundredth was obtained with the hybrid proteins from pCM2 and pCM4. With pCM2 and pCM4, neither the C19-end product, GA9, nor the C20-end product, GA25-was formed. However, after transformation with constructs pCM1, pCM3, pCM5 or pCM6. GA9accounted for 30, 40, 60 and 90%, respectively, of the end products formed. Thus, the segments originating from M. macrocarpus conferred upon the chimaeric proteins an increasing ability to direct the biosynthetic flow into C19-GAs in this order. Although GA24is the immediate precursor, much less end products were formed by using this substrate.
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