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Non-specific activities of the major herbicide-resistance gene BAR


Christ, Bastien; Hochstrasser, Ramon; Guyer, Luzia; Francisco, Rita; Aubry, Sylvain; Hörtensteiner, Stefan; Weng, Jing-Ke (2017). Non-specific activities of the major herbicide-resistance gene BAR. Nature Plants, 3(12):937-945.

Abstract

Bialaphos resistance (BAR) and phosphinothricin acetyltransferase (PAT) genes, which convey resistance to the broad-spectrum herbicide phosphinothricin (also known as glufosinate) via N-acetylation, have been globally used in basic plant research and genetically engineered crops 1-4 . Although early in vitro enzyme assays showed that recombinant BAR and PAT exhibit substrate preference toward phosphinothricin over the 20 proteinogenic amino acids 1 , indirect effects of BAR-containing transgenes in planta, including modified amino acid levels, have been seen but without the identification of their direct causes 5,6 . Combining metabolomics, plant genetics and biochemical approaches, we show that transgenic BAR indeed converts two plant endogenous amino acids, aminoadipate and tryptophan, to their respective N-acetylated products in several plant species. We report the crystal structures of BAR, and further delineate structural basis for its substrate selectivity and catalytic mechanism. Through structure-guided protein engineering, we generated several BAR variants that display significantly reduced non-specific activities compared with its wild-type counterpart in vivo. The transgenic expression of enzymes can result in unintended off-target metabolism arising from enzyme promiscuity. Understanding such phenomena at the mechanistic level can facilitate the design of maximally insulated systems featuring heterologously expressed enzymes.

Abstract

Bialaphos resistance (BAR) and phosphinothricin acetyltransferase (PAT) genes, which convey resistance to the broad-spectrum herbicide phosphinothricin (also known as glufosinate) via N-acetylation, have been globally used in basic plant research and genetically engineered crops 1-4 . Although early in vitro enzyme assays showed that recombinant BAR and PAT exhibit substrate preference toward phosphinothricin over the 20 proteinogenic amino acids 1 , indirect effects of BAR-containing transgenes in planta, including modified amino acid levels, have been seen but without the identification of their direct causes 5,6 . Combining metabolomics, plant genetics and biochemical approaches, we show that transgenic BAR indeed converts two plant endogenous amino acids, aminoadipate and tryptophan, to their respective N-acetylated products in several plant species. We report the crystal structures of BAR, and further delineate structural basis for its substrate selectivity and catalytic mechanism. Through structure-guided protein engineering, we generated several BAR variants that display significantly reduced non-specific activities compared with its wild-type counterpart in vivo. The transgenic expression of enzymes can result in unintended off-target metabolism arising from enzyme promiscuity. Understanding such phenomena at the mechanistic level can facilitate the design of maximally insulated systems featuring heterologously expressed enzymes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:December 2017
Deposited On:26 Feb 2018 15:55
Last Modified:23 Sep 2018 06:14
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2055-026X
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-017-0061-1
PubMed ID:29180815

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