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Precursor-Directed Biosynthesis of Phenylbenzoisoquinolindione Alkaloids and the Discovery of a Phenylphenalenone-Based Plant Defense Mechanism

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journal contribution
posted on 06.03.2018, 17:36 by Yu Chen, Christian Paetz, Bernd Schneider
Phenylbenzoisochromenone glucosides (oxa-phenylphenalenone glucosides) occurring in some phenylphenalenone-producing plants of the Haemodoraceae undergo conversion to phenylbenzoisoquinolindiones (aza-phenylphenalenones) in extracts of Xiphidium caeruleum. Precursor-directed biosynthetic experiments were used to generate a series of new phenylbenzoisoquinolindiones from native phenylbenzoisochromenone glucosides and external amines, amino acids, and peptides. Intermediates of the conversion were isolated, incubated with cell-free extracts, and exposed to reactions under oxidative or inert conditions, respectively, to elucidate the entire pathway from phenylbenzoisochromenones to phenylbenzoisoquinolindiones. An intermediate in this pathway, a reactive hydroxylactone/aldehyde, readily binds not only to amines in vitro but may also bind to the N-terminus of biogenic peptides and proteins of herbivores and pathogens in vivo. The deactivation of biogenic amino compounds by N-terminal modification is discussed as the key reaction of a novel phenylphenalenone-based plant defense mechanism. According to these data, the ecological function of phenylphenalenone-type compounds in the Haemodoraceae, subfamily Haemodoroideae, has been substantiated.