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Functional characterization of squalene synthase and squalene epoxidase in Taraxacum koksaghyz

: Unland, K.; Pütter, K.M.; Vorwerk, K.; Deenen, N. van; Twyman, R.M.; Prüfer, D.; Schulze Gronover, C.

Fulltext ()

Plant direct 2 (2018), No.6, Art. e00063, 15 pp.
ISSN: 2475-4455
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

The Russian dandelion Taraxacum koksaghyz produces high‐value isoprenoids such as pentacyclic triterpenes and natural rubber in the latex of specialized cells known as laticifers. Squalene synthase (SQS) and squalene epoxidase (SQE) catalyze key steps in the biosynthesis of cyclic terpenoids, but neither enzyme has yet been characterized in T. koksaghyz. Genomic analysis revealed the presence of two genes (TkSQS1 and TkSQS2) encoding isoforms of SQS, and four genes (TkSQE1–4) encoding isoforms of SQE. Spatial expression analysis in different T. koksaghyz tissues confirmed that TkSQS1 and TkSQE1 are the latex‐predominant isoforms, with highly similar mRNA expression profiles. The TkSQS1 and TkSQE1 proteins colocalized in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane and their enzymatic functions were confirmed by in vitro activity assays and yeast complementation studies, respectively. The functions of TkSQS1 and TkSQE1 were further characterized in the latex of T. koksaghyz plants with depleted TkSQS1 or TkSQE1 mRNA levels, produced by RNA interference. Comprehensive expression analysis revealed the coregulation of TkSQS1 and TkSQE1, along with a downstream gene in the triterpene biosynthesis pathway encoding the oxidosqualene cyclase TkOSC1. This indicates that the coregulation of TkSQS1, TkSQE1, and TkOSC1 could be used to optimize the flux toward specific terpenoids during development.