Defense responses of peanut (Arachis hypogaea) to biotic and abiotic stresses include the synthesis of prenylated stilbenoids. Members of this compound class show several protective activities in human disease studies, and the list of potential therapeutic targets continues to expand. Despite their medical and biological importance, the biosynthetic pathways of prenylated stilbenoids remain to be elucidated, and the genes encoding stilbenoid-specific prenyltransferases have yet to be identified in any plant species. In this study, we combined targeted transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses to discover prenyltransferase genes in elicitor-treated peanut hairy root cultures. Transcripts encoding five enzymes were identified, and two of these were functionally characterized in a transient expression system consisting of Agrobacterium-infiltrated leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana We observed that one of these prenyltransferases, AhR4DT-1, catalyzes a key reaction in the biosynthesis of prenylated stilbenoids, in which resveratrol is prenylated at its C-4 position to form arachidin-2, whereas another, AhR3'DT-1, added the prenyl group to C-3' of resveratrol. Each of these prenyltransferases was highly specific for stilbenoid substrates, and we confirmed their subcellular location in the plastid by fluorescence microscopy. Structural analysis of the prenylated stilbenoids suggested that these two prenyltransferase activities represent the first committed steps in the biosynthesis of a large number of prenylated stilbenoids and their derivatives in peanut. In summary, we have identified five candidate prenyltransferases in peanut and confirmed that two of them are stilbenoid-specific, advancing our understanding of this specialized enzyme family and shedding critical light onto the biosynthesis of bioactive stilbenoids.
Keywords: Arachidin; arachidin; hairy root; peanut; plant biochemistry; prenylation; resveratrol; secondary metabolism; small molecule; stilbenoid; transcriptomics.
© 2018 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.