Detoxification of monoterpenes by a family of plant glycosyltransferases

R. Karlova, J. Busscher, F. M. Schempp , M. Buchhaupt, A. D. J. van Dijk, J. Beekwilder

Phytochemistry 2022 Aug 26;113371; PMID: 36037906; DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2022.113371


Plant monoterpenes are challenging compounds, since they often act as solvents, and thus have both phytotoxic and antimicrobial properties. In this study an approach is developed to identify and characterize enzymes that can detoxify monoterpenoids, and thus would protect both plants and microbial production systems from these compounds. Plants respond to the presence of monoterpenes by expressing glycosyltransferases (UGTs), which conjugate the monoterpenoids into glycosides. By identifying these enzymes in a transcriptomics approach using Mentha × piperita, a family of UGTs was identified which is active on cyclic monoterpenoids such as menthol, and on acyclic monoterpenoids such as geranic acid. Other members of this family, from tomato, were also shown to be active on these monoterpenoids. In vitro and in vivo activity of different UGTs were tested with different substrates. We found that some glycosyltransferases significantly affect the toxicity of selected monoterpenoids in Escherichia coli, suggesting that glycosyltransferases can protect cells from monoterpenoid toxicity.

Keywords: Geranic acid; Glycosyltransferase; Lamiaceae; Mentha × piperita L; Menthol; Monoterpene; Solanum lycopersicum L. Solanaceae.

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