Alteration of a single amino acid changes the substrate specificity of dihydroflavonol 4-reductase


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Many plant species exhibit a reduced range of flower colors due to the lack of an essential gene or to the substrate specificity of a biosynthetic enzyme. Petunia does not produce orange flowers because dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR) from this species, an enzyme involved in anthocyanin biosynthesis, inefficiently reduces dihydrokaempferol, the precursor to orange pelargonidin-type anthocyanins. The substrate specificity of DFR, however, has not been investigated at the molecular level. By analyzing chimeric DFRs of Petunia and Gerbera, we identified a region that determines the substrate specificity of DFR. Furthermore, by changing a single amino acid in this presumed substrate-binding region, we developed a DFR enzyme that preferentially reduces dihydrokaempferol. Our results imply that the substrate specificity of DFR can be altered by minor changes in DFR.