• The Catharanthus roseus 16-hydroxytabersonine O-methyltransferase involved in vindoline biosynthesis /

      Levac, Dylan.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2008-06-29)
      Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) produces the well known and remarkably complex dimeric anticancer alkaloids vinblastine and vincristine that are derived by coupling vindoline and catharanthine monomers. This thesis describes the novel application of carborundum abrasion (CA) technique as a tool for large scale isolation of leaf epidermis enriched proteins. This technique was used to facilitate the purification to apparent homogeneity of 16-hydroxytabersonine-16-0-methyltransferse (l60MT) that catalyses the second step in the 6 step pathway that converts tabersonine into vindoline. This versatile tool was also used to harvest leaf epidermis enriched mRNAs that facilitated the molecular cloning of the 160MT. Functional expression and biochemical characterization of recombinant 160MT enzyme showed that it had a very narrow substrate specificity and high affinity for 16-hydroxytabersonine, since other closely related monoterpene indole alkaloids (MIAs) did not act as substrates. In addition to allowing the cloning of this gene, CA technique clearly showed that 160MT is predominantly expressed in Catharanthus leaf epidermis, in contrast to several other OMTs that appear to be expressed in other Catharanthus tissues. The results provide compelling evidence that most of the pathway for vindoline biosynthesis including the 0- methylation of 16-hydroxytabersonine occurs exclusively in leaf epidermis, with subsequent steps occurring in other leaf cell types. Small molecule O-methyltransferases (OMTs) (E.C. 2.1.1.6.x) catalyze the transfer of the reactive methyl group of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) to free hydroxyl groups of acceptor molecules. Plant OMTs, unlike their monomeric mammalian homologues, exist as functional homodimers. While the biological advantages for dimer fonnation with plant OMTs remain to be established, studies with OMTs from the benzylisoquinoline producing plant, Thalictrum tuberosum, showed that co-expression of 2 recombinant OMTs produced novel substrate specificities not found when each rOMT was expressed individually (Frick, Kutchan, 1999) . These results suggest that OMTs can fonn heterodimers that confer novel substrate specificities not possible with the homodimer alone. The present study describes a 160MT model based strategy attempting to modify the substrate specificity by site-specific mutagenesis. Our failure to generate altered substrate acceptance profiles in our 160MT mutants has lead us to study the biochemical properties ofhomodimers and heterodimers. Experimental evidence is provided to show that active sites found on OMT dimers function independently and that bifunctional heterodimeric OMTs may be fonned in vivo to produce a broader and more diverse range of natural products in plants.
    • Metabolic, biochemical and molecular profiling of Catharanthus roseus flower cultivars and transformed hairy roots for monoterpenoid indole alkaloid accumulation /

      Magnotta, Mary.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2007-06-09)
      Catharanthlls rosellS (L.) G Don is a commercially significant flower species and in addition is the only source of the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIA) vinblastine and vincristine, which are key pharmaceutical compounds that are used to combat a number of different cancers. Therefore, procurement of the antineoplastic agents is difficult but essential procedure. Alternatively, CatharanthllS tissue cultures have been investigated as a source of these agents; however they do not produce vindoline, which is an obligate precursor to vinblastine and vincristine. The interest in developing high MIA cultivars of Catharantlws rosellS has prompted metabolic profiling studies to determine the variability of MIA accumulation of existing flowering cultivars, with particular focus on the vindoline component ofthe pathway. Metabolic profiling studies that used high performance liquid chromatography of MIAs from seedlings and young leaf extracts from 50 different flowering cultivars showed that, except for a single low vindoline cultivar (Vinca Mediterranean DP Orchid), they all accumulate similar levels of MIAs. Further enzymatic studies with extracts from young leaves and from developing seedlings showed that the low vindoline cultivar has a IO-fold lower tabersonine-16-hydroxylase activity than those of CatharanthllS rosellS cv Little Delicata. Additionally, studies aimed at metabolic engineering ofvindoline bios}l1thesis in Catharanthus rosellS hairy root cultures have been performed by expressing the last step in vindoline biosynthesis [Dcacetylvindoline-4-0- acetyltransferase (DAT)]. Enzymatic profiling studies with transformed hairy roots have confirmed that over-expressing DAT leads to lines with high levels of O-acetyltransferase activity when compared to non-expressing hairy roots. One particular DA T over111 expressing hairy root culture (line 7) contained 200 times the OAT activity than leaves of control lines. Additional MIA analyses revealed that DAT over-expressing hairy roots have an altered alkaloid profile with significant variation in the accumulation of h6rhammericine. Further analysis of transformed hairy root line 7 suggests a correlation between the expression of OAT activity and h6rhammericine accumulation with root maturation. These studies show that metabolic and selective enzymatic profiling can enhance our ability to search for relevant MIA pathway mutants and that genetic engineering with appropriate pathway genes shows promise as a tool to modify the MIA profile of Catharanthus roseus.