Rerouting the plant phenylpropanoid pathway by expression of a novel bacterial enoyl-CoA hydratase/lyase enzyme function

M. J. Mayer, A. Narbad, A. J. Parr, M. L. Parker, N. J. Walton, F. A. Mellon, A. J. Michael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The gene for a bacterial enoyl-CoA hydratase (crotonase) homolog (HCHL) previously shown to convert 4-coumaroyl-CoA, caffeoyl-CoA, and feruloyI-CoA to the corresponding hydroxybenzaldehydes in vitro provided an opportunity to subvert the plant phenylpropanoid pathway and channel carbon flux through 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde and the important flavor compound 4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde (vanillin). Expression of the Pseudomonas fluorescens AN103 HCHL gene in two generations of tobacco plants caused the development of phenotypic abnormalities, including stunting, interveinal chlorosis and senescence, curled leaf margins, low pollen production, and male sterility. In second generation progeny, the phenotype segregated with the transgene and transgenic siblings exhibited orange/red coloration of the vascular ring, distorted cells in the xylem and phloem bundles, and lignin modification/reduction. There was depletion of the principal phenolics concomitant with massive accumulation of novel metabolites, including the glucosides and glucose esters of 4-hydroxybenzoic acid and vanillic acid and the glucosides of 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol and vanillyl alcohol. HCHL plants exhibited increased accumulation of transcripts for phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, cinnamate-4-hydroxylase, and 4-coumarate:CoA ligase, whereas β-1,3-glucanase was suppressed. This study, exploiting the ability of a bacterial gene to divert plant secondary metabolism, provides insight into how plants modify inappropriately accumulated metabolites and reveals the consequences of depleting the major phenolic pools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1669-1682
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Rerouting the plant phenylpropanoid pathway by expression of a novel bacterial enoyl-CoA hydratase/lyase enzyme function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this