083 Is HMGR the Key Regulator of α-Farnesene Biosynthesis of Apple?

in HortScience
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  • Depts. of 1Plant Agriculture (Horticultural Science) and 2Food Science, Univ. of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1 Canada

We tested the hypothesis that conversion of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl co-enzyme A (HMG CoA) to mevalonate (MVA) catalyzed by HMG CoA reductase (HMGR) is the rate limiting step for α-farnesene biosynthesis of apples. In higher plants, isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) is derived via two pathways: 1) the classical mevalonate pathway, and 2) the novel glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (GAP)/pyruvate pathway independent of HMGR action. When apple skin discs were incubated with MVA, or GAP and pyruvate, MVA increased α-farnesene levels in the skin but not GAP and pyruvate. Treating apple fruits with Lovastatin (1000 ppm), a competitive inhibitor of HMGR, inhibited α-farnesene accumulation in the skin by 20% to 50% during storage. Content of α-farnesene in the skin increased during the first 2 to 4 months in storage, and then decreased. In contrast, HMGR activity, as determined by the conversion of [4-3H]HMG CoA to MVA in the total membrane and soluble fraction, was the highest at the time of harvest and gradually decreased during 5 months of storage in air at 0 °C. The potent ethylene action inhibitor 1-MCP inhibited ethylene production and α-farnesene evolution by 99% and 97%, respectively. The effect of 1-MCP on in vitro activity of HMGR was marginal (≈30% inhibition). 1-MCP inhibited respiratory CO2 evolution by 50%, which suggests also that inhibition by 1-MCP of α-farnesene synthesis in apple could be regulated by the acetyl CoA pool. In plants, HMGR is encoded by a small gene family and differentially expressed. As the first step of studying the molecular mechanism of HMGR regulation, we have isolated a 444-bp fragment of apple hmgr gene using apple skin mRNA and degenerate oligonucleotides designed against conserved regions of plant hmgr genes.

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