Divergent evolution of flavonoid 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases in parsley

Stefan Martens, Gert Forkmann, Lothar Britsch, Frank Wellmann, Ulrich Matern, Richard Lukačin

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93 Scopus citations


Flavone synthases (FNSs) catalyze the oxidation of flavanones to flavones, i.e. the formation of apigenin from (2S)-naringenin. While many plants express a microsomal-type FNS II, the soluble FNS I appears to be confined to a few species of the Apiaceae and was cloned recently from parsley plants. FNS I belongs to the FeII/2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases characterized by short conserved sequence elements for cofactor binding, and its evolutionary context and mode of action are under investigation. Using a homology-based reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction approach, two additional flavonoid-specific dioxygenases were cloned from immature parsley leaflets, which were identified as flavanone 3β-hydroxylase (FHT) and flavonol synthase (FLS) after expression in yeast cells. Sequence alignments revealed marginal differences among the parsley FNS I and FHT polypeptides of only 6%, while much less identity (about 29%) was observed with the parsley FLS. Analogous to FNS I, FLS oxidizes the flavonoid γ-pyrone by introducing a C2, C3 double bond, and (2R,3S)-dihydrokaempferol (cis-dihydrokaempferol) was proposed recently as the most likely intermediate in both FNS I and FLS catalysis. Incubation of either FNS I or FLS with cis-dihydrokaempferol exclusively produced kaempferol and confirmed the assumption that flavonol formation occurs via hydroxylation at C3 followed by dehydratation. However, the lack of apigenin in these incubations ruled out cis-dihydrokaempferol as a free intermediate in FNS I catalysis. Furthermore, neither (+)-trans-dihydrokaempferol nor unnatural (-)-trans-dihydrokaempferol and 2-hydroxynaringenin served as a substrate for FNS I. Overall, the data suggest that FNS I has evolved uniquely in some Apiaceae as a paraphyletic gene from FHT, irrespective of the fact that FNS I and FLS catalyze equivalent desaturation reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2003


  • 2-Oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase
  • Apiaceae
  • Flavonoid biosynthesis
  • Petroselinum crispum


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