Author(s): Zerbe P, Chiang A, Yuen M, Hamberger B, Hamberger B,
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Abstract The labdanoid diterpene alcohol cis-abienol is a major component of the aromatic oleoresin of balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and serves as a valuable bioproduct material for the fragrance industry. Using high-throughput 454 transcriptome sequencing and metabolite profiling of balsam fir bark tissue, we identified candidate diterpene synthase sequences for full-length cDNA cloning and functional characterization. We discovered a bifunctional class I/II cis-abienol synthase (AbCAS), along with the paralogous levopimaradiene/abietadiene synthase and isopimaradiene synthase, all of which are members of the gymnosperm-specific TPS-d subfamily. The AbCAS-catalyzed formation of cis-abienol proceeds via cyclization and hydroxylation at carbon C-8 of a postulated carbocation intermediate in the class II active site, followed by cleavage of the diphosphate group and termination of the reaction sequence without further cyclization in the class I active site. This reaction mechanism is distinct from that of synthases of the isopimaradiene- or levopimaradiene/abietadiene synthase type, which employ deprotonation reactions in the class II active site and secondary cyclizations in the class I active site, leading to tricyclic diterpenes. Comparative homology modeling suggested the active site residues Asp-348, Leu-617, Phe-696, and Gly-723 as potentially important for the specificity of AbCAS. As a class I/II bifunctional enzyme, AbCAS is a promising target for metabolic engineering of cis-abienol production.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Journal of Next Generation Sequencing & Applications