UBC Faculty Research and Publications

RNA-Seq in the discovery of a sparsely expressed scent-determining monoterpene synthase in lavenders (Lavandula) Adal, Ayelign M.; Sarker, Lukman S.; Malli, Radesh P. N.; Liang, Ping; Mahmoud, Soheil S.


Using RNA-Seq, we cloned and characterized a unique monoterpene synthase responsible for the formation of a scent-determining S-linalool constituent of lavender oils from Lavandula × intermedia. Several species of Lavandula produce essential oils (EOs) consisting mainly of monoterpenes including linalool, one of the most abundant and scent-determining oil constituents. Although R-linalool dominates the EOs of lavenders, varying amounts (depending on the species) of the S-linalool enantiomer can also be found in these plants. Despite its relatively low abundance, S-linalool contributes a sweet, pleasant scent and is an important constituent of lavender EOs. While several terpene synthase genes including R-linalool synthase have been cloned from lavenders many important terpene synthases including S-linalool synthase have not been described from these plants. In this study, we employed RNA-Seq and other complementary sequencing data to clone and functionally characterize the sparsely expressed S-linalool synthase cDNA (LiS-LINS) from Lavandula × intermedia. Recombinant LiS-LINS catalyzed the conversion of the universal monoterpene precursor geranyl diphosphate to S-linalool as the sole product. Intriguingly, LiS-LINS exhibited very low (~ 30%) sequence similarity to other Lavandula terpene synthases, including R-linalool synthase. However, the predicted 3D structure of this protein, including the composition and arrangement of amino acids at the active site, is highly homologous to known terpene synthase proteins. LiS-LINS transcripts were detected in flowers, but were much less abundant than those corresponding to LiR-LINS, paralleling enantiomeric composition of linalool in L. × intermedia oils. These data indicate that production of S-linalool is at least partially controlled at the level of transcription from LiS-LINS. The cloned LiS-LINS cDNA may be used to enhance oil composition in lavenders and other plants through metabolic engineering. [This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Planta. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00425-018-2935-5]

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