Unexpected presence of fructan 6-exohydrolases (6-FEHs) in non-fructan plants: characterization, cloning, mass mapping and functional analysis of a novel ‘cell-wall invertase-like’ specific 6-FEH from sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.)
Article first published online: 3 NOV 2003
The Plant Journal
Volume 36, Issue 5, pages 697–710, December 2003
How to Cite
Van den Ende, W., De Coninck, B., Clerens, S., Vergauwen, R. and Van Laere, A. (2003), Unexpected presence of fructan 6-exohydrolases (6-FEHs) in non-fructan plants: characterization, cloning, mass mapping and functional analysis of a novel ‘cell-wall invertase-like’ specific 6-FEH from sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.). The Plant Journal, 36: 697–710. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313X.2003.01912.x
- Issue published online: 18 NOV 2003
- Article first published online: 3 NOV 2003
- Received 25 June 2003; revised 27 August 2003; accepted 3 September 2003.
- Arabidopsis thaliana;
- Beta vulgaris;
- Pichia expression
About 15% of flowering plant species synthesize fructans. Fructans serve mainly as reserve carbohydrates and are subject to breakdown by plant fructan exohydrolases (FEHs), among which 1-FEHs (inulinases) and 6-FEHs (levanases) can be differentiated. This paper describes the unexpected finding that 6-FEHs also occur in plants that do not synthesize fructans. The purification, characterization, cloning and functional analysis of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) 6-FEH are described. Enzyme activity measurements during sugar beet development suggest a constitutive expression of the gene in sugar beet roots. Classical enzyme purification followed by in-gel trypsin digestion and mass spectrometry (quadruple-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Q-TOF) MS) led to peptide sequence information used in subsequent RT-PCR based cloning. Levan-type fructans (β-2,6) are the best substrates for the enzyme, while inulin-type fructans (β-2,1) and sucrose are poorly or not degraded. Sugar beet 6-FEH is more related to cell wall invertases than to vacuolar invertases and has a low iso-electric point (pI), clearly different from typical high pI cell wall invertases. Poor sequence homology to bacterial or fungal FEHs makes an endophytic origin highly unlikely. The functionality of the 6-FEH cDNA was further demonstrated by heterologous expression in Pichia pastoris. As fructans are absent in sugar beet, the role of 6-FEH in planta is not obvious. Like chitinases and β-glucanases hydrolysing cell-surface components of fungal plant pathogens, a straightforward working hypothesis for further research might be that plant 6-FEHs participate in hydrolysis (or prevent the formation) of levan-containing slime surrounding endophytic or phytopathogenic bacteria.