Enzymes Involved in the Biosynthesis of Arginine from Ornithine in Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.)

Plants (Basel). 2020 Sep 27;9(10):1271. doi: 10.3390/plants9101271.


The amino acids arginine and ornithine are the precursors of a wide range of nitrogenous compounds in all living organisms. The metabolic conversion of ornithine into arginine is catalyzed by the sequential activities of the enzymes ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC), argininosuccinate synthetase (ASSY) and argininosuccinate lyase (ASL). Because of their roles in the urea cycle, these enzymes have been purified and extensively studied in a variety of animal models. However, the available information about their molecular characteristics, kinetic and regulatory properties is relatively limited in plants. In conifers, arginine plays a crucial role as a main constituent of N-rich storage proteins in seeds and serves as the main source of nitrogen for the germinating embryo. In this work, recombinant PpOTC, PpASSY and PpASL enzymes from maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) were produced in Escherichia coli to enable study of their molecular and kinetics properties. The results reported here provide a molecular basis for the regulation of arginine and ornithine metabolism at the enzymatic level, suggesting that the reaction catalyzed by OTC is a regulatory target in the homeostasis of ornithine pools that can be either used for the biosynthesis of arginine in plastids or other nitrogenous compounds in the cytosol.

Keywords: Pinus; amino acid biosynthesis; arginine; biochemical regulation; conifers; enzyme kinetics; nitrogen metabolism; ornithine.