Possible evolution of alliarinoside biosynthesis from the glucosinolate pathway in Alliaria petiolata


B. L. Møller, Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, DK-1871 Frederiksberg, Denmark
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Nitrile formation in plants involves the activity of cytochrome P450s. Hydroxynitrile glucosides are widespread among plants but generally do not occur in glucosinolate producing species. Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard, Brassicaceae) is the only species known to produce glucosinolates as well as a γ-hydroxynitrile glucoside. Furthermore, A. petiolata has been described to release diffusible cyanide, which indicates the presence of unidentified cyanogenic glucoside(s). Our research on A. petiolata addresses the molecular evolution of P450s. By integrating current knowledge about glucosinolate and hydroxynitrile glucoside biosynthesis in other species and new visions on recurrent evolution of hydroxynitrile glucoside biosynthesis, we propose a pathway for biosynthesis of the γ-hydroxynitrile glucoside, alliarinoside. Homomethionine and the corresponding oxime are suggested as shared intermediates in the biosynthesis of alliarinoside and 2-propenyl glucosinolate. The first committed step in the alliarinoside pathway is envisioned to be catalysed by a P450, which has been recruited to metabolize the oxime. Furthermore, alliarinoside biosynthesis is suggested to involve enzyme activities common to secondary modification of glucosinolates. Thus, we argue that biosynthesis of alliarinoside may be the first known case of a hydroxynitrile glucoside pathway having evolved from the glucosinolate pathway. An intriguing question is whether the proposed hydroxynitrile intermediate may also be converted to novel homomethionine-derived cyanogenic glucoside(s), which could release cyanide. Elucidation of the pathway for biosynthesis of alliarinoside and other putative hydroxynitrile glucosides in A. petiolata is envisioned to offer significant new knowledge on the emerging picture of P450 functional dynamics as a basis for recurrent evolution of pathways for bioactive natural product biosynthesis.