Characterization of Anandamide Metabolic Pathway in Moss

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N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) including anandamide (NAE 20:4) are fatty acid ethanolamides generated by the hydrolysis of N-acylphoshotidylethanolamine (NAPE) by phospholipase D (PLD) and degraded by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). In mammals, ligands such as NAE 20:4 act through cannabinoid receptors and regulate several physiological processes like neuroprotection, pain perception, mental depression, and appetite suppression. In plants, NAE with chain length C12 to C18 are common and affect physiological processes such as cytoskeletal organization, endomembrane trafficking, cell wall and cell shape formation, seedling growth and response to stress. However, our recent identification of NAE 20:4 in moss, Physcomitrella patens prompted us to elucidate its metabolic pathway and physiological implications. We hypothesize that unique NAE metabolites such as anandamide in moss might play a role in rendering moss its ability to tolerate temperature, dehydration, salt and osmotic stress. To address the above hypothesis, three main objectives are being pursued using P patens. 1)Biochemical and molecular characterization of NAE metabolic pathway, 2) Generation and phenotypic characterization of NAE metabolite mutants, and 3) Elucidation of the physiological role of NAEs in abscisic acid-mediated dehydration tolerance. A NAPE-PLD, known to synthesize NAE 20:4 has been identified in mammals and FAAH in several eukaryotes, including plants. Here, identification and cloning of putative NAPE-PLD and FAAH genes that are likely involved in NAE synthesis and degradation, respectively, in P patens is discussed. Our long-term objective is to understand lipid-mediated stress responses in plants.


Johnson City, TN

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