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Keywords:

  • O-methyltransferase;
  • Fragaria;
  • volatiles;
  • fruit;
  • ripening;
  • 2,5-dimethyl-4-methoxy-3(2H)-furanone

Summary

Strawberry fruits contain an uncommon group of key aroma compounds with a 2,5-dimethyl-3(2H)-furanone structure. Here, we report on the methylation of 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone (DMHF) to 2,5-dimethyl-4-methoxy-3(2H)-furanone (DMMF) by a S-adenosyl-L-methionine dependent O-methyltransferase, the cloning of the corresponding cDNA and characterization of the encoded protein. Northern-hybridization indicated that the Strawberry-OMT specific transcripts accumulated during ripening in strawberry fruits and were absent in root, petiole, leaf and flower. The protein was functionally expressed in E. coli and exhibited a substrate specificity for catechol, caffeic acid, protocatechuic aldehyde, caffeoyl CoA and DMHF. A common structural feature of the accepted substrates was a o-diphenolic structure also present in DMHF in its dienolic tautomer. FaOMT is active as a homodimer and the native enzyme shows optimum activity at pH 8.5 and 37°C. It does not require a cofactor for enzymatic activity. Due to the expression pattern of FaOMT and the enzymatic activity in the different stages of fruit ripening we suppose that FaOMT is involved in lignification of the achenes and the vascular bundles in the expanding fruit. In addition, it is concluded that the Strawberry-OMT plays an important role in the biosynthesis of strawberry volatiles such as vanillin and DMMF.