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Keywords:

  • glucosinolate;
  • sulforaphane;
  • arabidopsis;
  • brassica;
  • flavin monooxygenase

Summary

The cancer-preventive activity of cruciferous vegetables is commonly attributed to isothiocyanates resulting from the breakdown of the natural products glucosinolates (GSLs). Sulforaphane, the isothiocyanate derived from 4-methylsulfinylbutyl GSL, is thought to be the major agent conferring cancer-preventive properties, whereas the isothiocyanate of 4-methylthiobutyl GSL does not have the same activity. We report the identification of an Arabidopsis flavin-monooxygenase (FMO) enzyme, FMOGS-OX1, which catalyzes the conversion of methylthioalkyl GSLs into methylsulfinylalkyl GSLs. This is evidenced by biochemical characterization of the recombinant protein, and analyses of the GSL content in FMOGS-OX1 overexpression lines and an FMOGS-OX1 knock-out mutant of Arabidopsis. The FMOGS-OX1 overexpression lines show almost complete conversion of methylthioalkyl into methylsulfinylalkyl GSLs, with an approximately fivefold increase in 4-methylsulfinylbutyl GSL in seeds. Identification of FMOGS-OX1 provides a molecular tool for breeding of Brassica vegetable crops with increased levels of this important GSL, which has implications for production of functional foods enriched with the cancer-preventive sulforaphane.