The Journal of biological chemistry

Peroxisomal metabolism of propionic acid and isobutyric acid in plants.

PMID 17580301


The subcellular sites of branched-chain amino acid metabolism in plants have been controversial, particularly with respect to valine catabolism. Potential enzymes for some steps in the valine catabolic pathway are clearly present in both mitochondria and peroxisomes, but the metabolic functions of these isoforms are not clear. The present study examined the possible function of these enzymes in metabolism of isobutyryl-CoA and propionyl-CoA, intermediates in the metabolism of valine and of odd-chain and branched-chain fatty acids. Using (13)C NMR, accumulation of beta-hydroxypropionate from [2-(13)C]propionate was observed in seedlings of Arabidopsis thaliana and a range of other plants, including both monocots and dicots. Examination of coding sequences and subcellular targeting elements indicated that the completed genome of A. thaliana likely codes for all the enzymes necessary to convert valine to propionyl-CoA in mitochondria. However, Arabidopsis mitochondria may lack some of the key enzymes for metabolism of propionyl-CoA. Known peroxisomal enzymes may convert propionyl-CoA to beta-hydroxypropionate by a modified beta-oxidation pathway. The chy1-3 mutation, creating a defect in a peroxisomal hydroxyacyl-CoA hydrolase, abolished the accumulation of beta-hydroxyisobutyrate from exogenous isobutyrate, but not the accumulation of beta-hydroxypropionate from exogenous propionate. The chy1-3 mutant also displayed a dramatically increased sensitivity to the toxic effects of excess propionate and isobutyrate but not of valine. (13)C NMR analysis of Arabidopsis seedlings exposed to [U-(13)C]valine did not show an accumulation of beta-hydroxypropionate. No evidence was observed for a modified beta-oxidation of valine. (13)C NMR analysis showed that valine was converted to leucine through the production of alpha-ketoisovalerate and isopropylmalate. These data suggest that peroxisomal enzymes for a modified beta-oxidation of isobutyryl-CoA and propionyl-CoA could function for metabolism of substrates other than valine.