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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Deregulating the shikimate pathway markedly increases aromatic amino acid production and carbon fixation in Arabidopsis.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 10, 2023
  3. Tremendous chemical diversity is the hallmark of plants and is supported by highly complex biochemical machinery. Plant metabolic enzymes originated and were transferred from eukaryotic and prokaryotic ancestors and further diversified by the unprecedented rates of gene duplication and functionalization experienced in land plants. Unlike microbes, which have frequent horizontal gene transfer events and multiple inputs of energy and organic carbon, land plants predominantly rely on organic carbon generated from CO 2 and have experienced very few, if any, gene transfers during their recent evolutionary history. As such, plant metabolic networks have evolved in a stepwise manner and on existing networks under various evolutionary constraints. This review aims to take a broader view of plant metabolic evolution and lay a framework to further explore underlying evolutionary mechanisms of the complex metabolic network. Understanding the underlying metabolic and genetic constraints is also an empirical prerequisite for rational engineering and redesigning of plant metabolic pathways. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Plant Biology, Volume 72 is May 2021. Please see for revised estimates.
  4. Abstract The plant shikimate pathway directs bulk carbon flow toward biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids (AAAs, i.e. tyrosine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan) and numerous aromatic phytochemicals. The microbial shikimate pathway is feedback inhibited by AAAs at the first enzyme, 3-deoxy-d-arabino-heptulosonate 7-phosphate synthase (DHS). However, AAAs generally do not inhibit DHS activities from plant extracts and how plants regulate the shikimate pathway remains elusive. Here, we characterized recombinant Arabidopsis thaliana DHSs (AthDHSs) and found that tyrosine and tryptophan inhibit AthDHS2, but not AthDHS1 or AthDHS3. Mixing AthDHS2 with AthDHS1 or 3 attenuated its inhibition. The AAA and phenylpropanoid pathway intermediates chorismate and caffeate, respectively, strongly inhibited all AthDHSs, while the arogenate intermediate counteracted the AthDHS1 or 3 inhibition by chorismate. AAAs inhibited DHS activity in young seedlings, where AthDHS2 is highly expressed, but not in mature leaves, where AthDHS1 is predominantly expressed. Arabidopsis dhs1 and dhs3 knockout mutants were hypersensitive to tyrosine and tryptophan, respectively, while dhs2 was resistant to tyrosine-mediated growth inhibition. dhs1 and dhs3 also had reduced anthocyanin accumulation under high light stress. These findings reveal the highly complex regulation of the entry reaction of the plant shikimate pathway and lay the foundation for efforts to control the production ofmore »AAAs and diverse aromatic natural products in plants.« less
  5. The emergence of type III polyketide synthases (PKSs) was a prerequisite for the conquest of land by the green lineage.Within the PKS superfamily, chalcone synthases (CHSs) provide the entry point reaction to the flavonoid pathway, while LESS ADHESIVE POLLEN 5 and 6 (LAP5/6) provide constituents of the outer exine pollen wall. To study the deep evolutionary history of this key family, we conducted phylogenomic synteny network and phylogenetic analyses of whole-genome data from 126 species spanning the green lineage including Arabidopsis thaliana, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum),and maize (Zea mays). This study thereby combined study of genomic location and context with changes in gene sequen-ces. We found that the two major clades, CHS and LAP5/6 homologs, evolved early by a segmental duplication event priorto the divergence of Bryophytes and Tracheophytes. We propose that the macroevolution of the type III PKS superfamily isgoverned by whole-genome duplications and triplications. The combined phylogenetic and synteny analyses in this studyprovide insights into changes in the genomic location and context that are retained for a longer time scale with more re-cent functional divergence captured by gene sequence alterations.
  6. l-Tyrosine is an essential amino acid for protein synthesis and is also used in plants to synthesize diverse natural products. Plants primarily synthesize tyrosine via TyrA arogenate dehydrogenase (TyrAa or ADH), which are typically strongly feedback inhibited by tyrosine. However, two plant lineages, Fabaceae (legumes) and Caryophyllales, have TyrA enzymes that exhibit relaxed sensitivity to tyrosine inhibition and are associated with elevated production of tyrosine-derived compounds, such as betalain pigments uniquely produced in core Caryophyllales. Although we previously showed that a single D222N substitution is primarily responsible for the deregulation of legume TyrAs, it is unknown when and how the deregulated Caryophyllales TyrA emerged. Here, through phylogeny-guided TyrA structure–function analysis, we found that functionally deregulated TyrAs evolved early in the core Caryophyllales before the origin of betalains, where the E208D amino acid substitution in the active site, which is at a different and opposite location from D222N found in legume TyrAs, played a key role in the TyrA functionalization. Unlike legumes, however, additional substitutions on non-active site residues further contributed to the deregulation of TyrAs in Caryophyllales. The introduction of a mutation analogous to E208D partially deregulated tyrosine-sensitive TyrAs, such as Arabidopsis TyrA2 (AtTyrA2). Moreover, the combined introduction of D222Nmore »and E208D additively deregulated AtTyrA2, for which the expression in Nicotiana benthamiana led to highly elevated accumulation of tyrosine in planta. The present study demonstrates that phylogeny-guided characterization of key residues underlying primary metabolic innovations can provide powerful tools to boost the production of essential plant natural products.« less