Diterpene resin acid biosynthesis in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda): Functional characterization of abietadiene/levopimaradiene synthase (PtTPS-LAS) cDNA and subcellular targeting of PtTPS-LAS and abietadienol/abietadienal oxidase (PtAO, CYP720B1).
Diterpene resin acids are prominent defense compounds against insect pests and pathogens in conifers. Biochemical and molecular analyses in grand fir (Abies grandis), Norway spruce (Picea abies), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) have identified two classes of genes and enzymes that generate much of the structural diversity of terpenoid defense compounds: The terpenoid synthases (TPS) and cytochrome P450 monooxgenases (P450). Using a single substrate, geranylgeranyl diphosphate, families of single-product and multi-product diterpene synthases generate an array of cyclic diterpene olefins. These diterpenes are converted to diterpene resin acids by activity of one or more P450 enzymes. A few conifer diterpene synthases have previously been cloned and characterized in grand fir and in Norway spruce. We have also previously shown that the loblolly pine P450 abietadienol/abietadienal oxidase (PtAO) catalyzes multiple oxidations of several diterpene alcohols and aldehydes. Conifer diterpene synthases are thought to function in plastids while P450s can also be localized to plastids or to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Here, we show that a loblolly pine cDNA (PtTPS-LAS) encodes a typical multi-product conifer diterpene synthase that forms levopimaradiene, abietadiene, palustradiene, and neoabietadiene similar to the grand fir abietadiene synthase and Norway spruce levopimaradiene/abietadiene synthase. Subcellular targeting of PtTPS-LAS and PtAO to plastids and ER, respectively, was shown with green fluorescent fusion protein expression in tobacco cells. These data suggest that enzymes for conifer diterpene resin acid biosynthesis are localized to at least two different subcellular compartments, plastids and ER, requiring efficient transport of intermediates and secretion of diterpene resin acids into the extracelluar space.