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      The biosynthetic pathway of vitamin C in higher plants.

      Nature

      Arabidopsis, metabolism, Ascorbic Acid, biosynthesis, Carbohydrate Epimerases, Galactose, Galactose Dehydrogenases, Glucose, Hordeum, In Vitro Techniques, Mannose, NAD, Peas, Sugar Acids

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          Abstract

          Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) has important antioxidant and metabolic functions in both plants and animals, but humans, and a few other animal species, have lost the capacity to synthesize it. Plant-derived ascorbate is thus the major source of vitamin C in the human diet. Although the biosynthetic pathway of L-ascorbic acid in animals is well understood, the plant pathway has remained unknown-one of the few primary plant metabolic pathways for which this is the case. L-ascorbate is abundant in plants (found at concentrations of 1-5 mM in leaves and 25 mM in chloroplasts) and may have roles in photosynthesis and transmembrane electron transport. We found that D-mannose and L-galactose are efficient precursors for ascorbate synthesis and are interconverted by GDP-D-mannose-3,5-epimerase. We have identified an enzyme in pea and Arabidopsis thaliana, L-galactose dehydrogenase, that catalyses oxidation of L-galactose to L-galactono-1,4-lactone. We propose an ascorbate biosynthesis pathway involving GDP-D-mannose, GDP-L-galactose, L-galactose and L-galactono-1,4-lactone, and have synthesized ascorbate from GDP-D-mannose by way of these intermediates in vitro. The definition of this biosynthetic pathway should allow engineering of plants for increased ascorbate production, thus increasing their nutritional value and stress tolerance.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Environmental stress sensitivity of an ascorbic acid-deficient Arabidopsis mutant.

          L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a powerful reducing agent found in millimolar concentrations in plants, and is proposed to play an important role in scavenging free radicals in plants and animals. However, surprisingly little is known about the role of this antioxidant in plant environmental stress adaptation or ascorbate biosynthesis. We report the isolation of soz1, a semi-dominant ozone-sensitive mutant that accumulates only 30% of the normal ascorbate concentration. The results of genetic approaches and feeding studies show that the ascorbate concentration affects foliar resistance to the oxidizing gas ozone. Consistent with the proposed role for ascorbate in reactive oxygen species detoxification, lipid peroxides are elevated in soz1, but not in wild type following ozone fumigation. We show that the soz1 mutant is hypersensitive to both sulfur dioxide and ultraviolet B irradiation, thus implicating ascorbate in defense against varied environmental stresses. In addition to defining the first ascorbate deficient mutant in plants, these results indicate that screening for ozone-sensitive mutants is a powerful method for identifying physiologically important antioxidant mechanisms and signal transduction pathways. Analysis of soz1 should lead to more information about the physiological roles and metabolism of ascorbate.
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            BOTANICAL BRIEFING: The Function and Metabolism of Ascorbic Acid in Plants

             N Smirnoff (1996)
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              L-ascorbic acid metabolism in the ascorbate-deficient arabidopsis mutant vtc1.

              The biosynthesis of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is not well understood in plants. The ozone-sensitive Arabidopsis thaliana mutant vitamin c-1 (vtc1; formerly known as soz1) is deficient in ascorbic acid, accumulating approximately 30% of wild-type levels. This deficiency could result from elevated catabolism or decreased biosynthesis. No differences that could account for the deficiency were found in the activities of enzymes that catalyze the oxidation or reduction of ascorbic acid. The absolute rate of ascorbic acid turnover is actually less in vtc1 than in wild type; however, the turnover rate relative to the pool of ascorbic acid is not significantly different. The results from [U-14C]Glc labeling experiments suggest that the deficiency is the result of a biosynthetic defect: less L-[14C]ascorbic acid as a percentage of total soluble 14C accumulates in vtc1 than in wild type. The feeding of two putative biosynthetic intermediates, D-glucosone and L-sorbosone, had no positive effect on ascorbic acid levels in either genotype. The vtc1 defect does not appear to be the result of a deficiency in L-galactono-1,4-lactone dehydrogenase, an enzyme able to convert L-galactono-1,4-lactone to ascorbic acid.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                9620799
                10.1038/30728

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