Identification, Recombinant Expression, and Biochemical Characterization of a Flavonol 3-O-Glucosyltransferase Clone From Citrus Paradisi

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Glucosylation is a predominant flavonoid modification reaction affecting the solubility, stability, and subsequent bioavailability of these metabolites. Flavonoid glycosides affect taste characteristics in citrus making the associated glucosyltransferases particularly interesting targets for biotechnology applications in these species. In this work, a Citrus paradisi glucosyltransferase gene was identified, cloned, and introduced into the pET recombinant protein expression system utilizing primers designed against a predicted flavonoid glucosyltransferase gene (AY519364) from Citrus sinensis. The encoded C. paradisi protein is 51.2 kDa with a predicted pI of 6.27 and is 96% identical to the C. sinensis homologue. A number of compounds from various flavonoid subclasses were tested, and the enzyme glucosylated only the flavonol aglycones quercetin (Kmapp = 67 μ M; Vmax = 20.45 pKat/μg), kaempferol (Kmapp = 12 μ M; Vmax = 11.63 pKat/μg), and myricetin (Kmapp = 33 μ M; Vmax = 12.21 pKat/μg) but did not glucosylate the anthocyanidin, cyanidin. Glucosylation occurred at the 3 hydroxyl position as confirmed by HPLC and TLC analyses with certified reference compounds. The optimum pH was 7.5 with a pronounced buffer effect noted for reactions performed in Tris-HCl buffer. The enzyme was inhibited by Cu2+, Fe2+, and Zn2+ as well as UDP (Kiapp = 69.5 μ M), which is a product of the reaction. Treatment of the enzyme with a variety of amino acid modifying compounds suggests that cysteine, histidine, arginine, tryptophan, and tyrosine residues are important for activity. The thorough characterization of this C. paradisi flavonol 3-O-glucosyltransferase adds to the growing base of glucosyltransferase knowledge, and will be used to further investigate structure-function relationships.