Chembiochem : a European journal of chemical biology

Biosynthesis and cellular localization of functional polyketides in the gastropod mollusc Scaphander lignarius.

PMID 22829532


Opisthobranchs belong to a subclass of highly evolved and specialised marine gastropods that rely on the use of secondary metabolites for their survival. Here we report the full elucidation of the biosynthesis of aromatic metabolites, lignarenones, in one of these gastropods, the cephalaspidean Scaphander lignarius. Feeding experiments with ²H- and ¹³C-labelled precursors revealed a mixed acetate/propionate polyketide pathway primed by benzoic acid. Phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), unprecedented in animals, is central to the synthesis of this aromatic precursor by oxidative deamination of L-phenylalanine to cinnamic acid. Lignarenones are synthesised in the cytoplasm of specialised eukaryotic cells named Blochmann's glands, which are distributed in biosynthetic tissue localised in the vulnerable mantle of the mollusc. This result supports the hypothesis that this lineage of gastropods has acquired the genetic information to produce the chemical substances that they use for their survival.