The Journal of biological chemistry

Biochemical characterization and homology modeling of methylbutenol synthase and implications for understanding hemiterpene synthase evolution in plants.

PMID 21504898


2-Methyl-3-buten-2-ol (MBO) is a five-carbon alcohol produced and emitted in large quantities by many species of pine native to western North America. MBO is structurally and biosynthetically related to isoprene and can have an important impact on regional atmospheric chemistry. The gene for MBO synthase was identified from Pinus sabiniana, and the protein encoded was functionally characterized. MBO synthase is a bifunctional enzyme that produces both MBO and isoprene in a ratio of ~90:1. Divalent cations are required for activity, whereas monovalent cations are not. MBO production is enhanced by K(+), whereas isoprene production is inhibited by K(+) such that, at physiologically relevant [K(+)], little or no isoprene emission should be detected from MBO-emitting trees. The K(m) of MBO synthase for dimethylallyl diphosphate (20 mm) is comparable with that observed for angiosperm isoprene synthases and 3 orders of magnitude higher than that observed for monoterpene and sesquiterpene synthases. Phylogenetic analysis showed that MBO synthase falls into the TPS-d1 group (gymnosperm monoterpene synthases) and is most closely related to linalool synthase from Picea abies. Structural modeling showed that up to three phenylalanine residues restrict the size of the active site and may be responsible for making this a hemiterpene synthase rather than a monoterpene synthase. One of these residues is homologous to a Phe residue found in the active site of isoprene synthases. The remaining two Phe residues do not have homologs in isoprene synthases but occupy the same space as a second Phe residue that closes off the isoprene synthase active site.