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Keywords:

  • stilbene;
  • nutraceutical;
  • antimicrobial;
  • metabolic engineering;
  • O-methyltransferase

Summary

Resveratrol and related stilbenes are thought to play important roles in defence responses in several plant species and have also generated considerable interest as nutraceuticals owing to their diverse health-promoting properties. Pterostilbene, a 3,5-dimethylether derivative of resveratrol, possesses properties similar to its parent compound and, additionally, exhibits significantly higher fungicidal activity in vitro and superior pharmacokinetic properties in vivo. Recombinant enzyme studies carried out using a previously characterized O-methyltransferase sequence from Sorghum bicolor (SbOMT3) demonstrated its ability to catalyse the A ring-specific 3,5-bis-O-methylation of resveratrol, yielding pterostilbene. A binary vector was constructed for the constitutive co-expression of SbOMT3 with a stilbene synthase sequence from peanut (AhSTS3) and used for the generation of stably transformed tobacco and Arabidopsis plants, resulting in the accumulation of pterostilbene in both species. A reduced floral pigmentation phenotype observed in multiple tobacco transformants was further investigated by reversed-phase HPLC analysis, revealing substantial decreases in both dihydroquercetin-derived flavonoids and phenylpropanoid-conjugated polyamines in pterostilbene-producing SbOMT3/AhSTS3 events. These results demonstrate the potential utility of this strategy for the generation of pterostilbene-producing crops and also underscore the need for the development of additional approaches for minimizing concomitant reductions in key phenylpropanoid-derived metabolites.