Identification and functional characterization of cDNAs coding for hydroxybenzoate/hydroxycinnamate glucosyltransferases co-expressed with genes related to proanthocyanidin biosynthesis

J Exp Bot. 2012 Feb;63(3):1201-14. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err340. Epub 2011 Nov 16.


Grape proanthocyanidins (PAs) play a major role in the organoleptic properties of wine. They are accumulated mainly in grape skin and seeds during the early stages of berry development. Despite the recent progress in the identification of genes involved in PA biosynthesis, the mechanisms involved in subunit condensation, galloylation, or fine regulation of the spatio-temporal composition of grape berries in PAs are still not elucidated. Two Myb transcription factors, VvMybPA1 and VvMybPA2, controlling the PA pathway have recently been identified and ectopically over-expressed in an homologous system. In addition to already known PA genes, three genes coding for glucosyltransferases were significantly differentially expressed between hairy roots over-expressing VvMybPA1 or VvMybPA2 and control lines. The involvement of these genes in PA biosynthesis metabolism is unclear. The three glucosyltransferases display high sequence similarities with other plant glucosyltransferases able to catalyse the formation of glucose esters, which are important intermediate actors for the synthesis of different phenolic compounds. Studies of the in vitro properties of these three enzymes (K(m), V(max), substrate specificity, pH sensitivity) were performed through production of recombinant proteins in E. coli and demonstrated that they are able to catalyse the formation of 1-O-acyl-Glc esters of phenolic acids but are not active on flavonoids and stilbenes. The transcripts are expressed in the early stages of grape berry development, mainly in the berry skins and seeds. The results presented here suggest that these enzymes could be involved in vivo in PA galloylation or in the synthesis of hydroxycinnamic esters.

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Glucosyltransferases / genetics
  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proanthocyanidins / biosynthesis*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Vitis / metabolism*


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Flavonoids
  • Hydroxybenzoates
  • Plant Proteins
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Transcription Factors
  • proanthocyanidin
  • flavan-3-ol
  • Glucosyltransferases