Biosynthesis of cyanogenic glucosides: in vitro analysis of the glucosylation step

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1984 Feb 15;229(1):177-86. doi: 10.1016/0003-9861(84)90142-5.


The last step in the biosynthesis of cyanogenic glucosides, the glucosylation of the cyanohydrin intermediate, has been investigated in detail using Triglochin maritima seedlings. The glucosyltransferase activity is not associated with membranes and appears to be a "soluble" enzyme. The cyanohydrin intermediate, which is formed by hydroxylation of 4-hydroxyphenylacetonitrile by a membrane-bound enzyme, is free to equilibrate in the presence of the glucosyltransferase and UDPG, because it can be trapped very efficiently. This indicates that this intermediate is not channeled (unlike some of the other intermediates), although it is probably the most labile of all of them. The glucosyltransferase of T. maritima responsible for the glucosylation of the cyanohydrin was separated from another glucosyltransferase, which used 4-hydroxybenzylalcohol as a substrate, and purified over 200-fold. It catalyzed the glucose transfer from UDPG to only 4-hydroxymandelonitrile and 3,4-dihydroxymandelonitrile, giving rise to the respective cyanogenic glucosides. Although the activities with these two substrates behaved differently in certain respects (e.g., extent of inactivation during purification and difference in activation by higher salt concentrations), most of the data acquired favor the view that only one enzyme in T. maritima is responsible for the glucosylation of both substrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Glycosides / biosynthesis*
  • Nitriles / biosynthesis*
  • Nitriles / metabolism
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Extracts / metabolism
  • Plants / enzymology*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Uridine Diphosphate Glucose / metabolism


  • Glycosides
  • Nitriles
  • Plant Extracts
  • 4-hydroxymandelonitrile
  • taxiphyllin
  • 3,4-dihydroxymandelonitrile
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • Uridine Diphosphate Glucose