Biphenyl 4-Hydroxylases Involved in Aucuparin Biosynthesis in Rowan and Apple Are Cytochrome P450 736A Proteins
Upon pathogen attack, fruit trees such as apple (Malus spp.) and pear (Pyrus spp.) accumulate biphenyl and dibenzofuran phytoalexins, with aucuparin as a major biphenyl compound. 4-Hydroxylation of the biphenyl scaffold, formed by biphenyl synthase (BIS), is catalyzed by a cytochrome P450 (CYP). The biphenyl 4-hydroxylase (B4H) coding sequence of rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) was isolated and functionally expressed in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). SaB4H was named CYP736A107. No catalytic function of CYP736 was known previously. SaB4H exhibited absolute specificity for 3-hydroxy-5-methoxybiphenyl. In rowan cell cultures treated with elicitor from the scab fungus, transient increases in the SaB4H, SaBIS, and phenylalanine ammonia lyase transcript levels preceded phytoalexin accumulation. Transient expression of a carboxyl-terminal reporter gene construct directed SaB4H to the endoplasmic reticulum. A construct lacking the amino-terminal leader and transmembrane domain caused cytoplasmic localization. Functional B4H coding sequences were also isolated from two apple (Malus × domestica) cultivars. The MdB4Hs were named CYP736A163. When stems of cv Golden Delicious were infected with the fire blight bacterium, highest MdB4H transcript levels were observed in the transition zone. In a phylogenetic tree, the three B4Hs were closest to coniferaldehyde 5-hydroxylases involved in lignin biosynthesis, suggesting a common ancestor. Coniferaldehyde and related compounds were not converted by SaB4H.