Mutations in the uridine diphosphate glucosyltransferase 76G1 gene result in different contents of the major steviol glycosides in Stevia rebaudiana.

Affiliation

Agronomy College, Sichuan Agricultural University, Chengdu, 611130, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

In the metabolic glycosylation grid of steviol glycosides, UGT76G1 was shown to catalyze at least eight different glucosylation steps, including the formation of rebaudioside B (Reb B) and rebaudioside A (Reb A) (Olsson et al., 2016). In this study, the accumulation of steviolbioside, Reb B, stevioside (ST) and Reb A in more than 140 samples of stevia leaves collected from different regions in China were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and five genotypes, 'N01-N05', with significantly different levels of the abovementioned glycosides were discovered. Mutations in the UGT76G1 gene cloned from cDNAs from these five genotypes were identified, and the functions of the recombinant UGT76G1 variants were ascertained by adding steviolbioside and ST substrates. In addition, homology modeling and molecular docking were used to elucidate the functional differences between variants and UGT76G1. Comparing the sequences of the five variants 'N01-N05' with UGT76G1 (AY345974.1) revealed that base substitutions were not observed in 'N01'. By contrast, 'N02' exhibited 9 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 9 associated amino acid substitutions or insertions with notable variations in the protein structure; however, an enzyme assay showed similar functionalities between the variant and UGT76G1. In 'N03', 49 SNPs and 29 associated amino acid substitutions or insertions were identified and shown to induce significant variations in the protein structure, especially in the binding pocket, resulting in the lack of functionality of this variant in the enzyme assay. These results were in agreement with the docking profiles. Moreover, a nonsense mutation of p.1090T > G in 'N04' and an insertion of a 68 base fragment in 'N05' were found, and both produced a premature protein without any catalytic activity. Therefore, UGT76G1, which is vital to the content of main steviol glycosides, should be a key gene marker for the molecular breeding of Stevia rebaudiana. Our investigations also revealed the location and orientation of active groups of the receptors and donors in the UGT76G1 enzyme, which play key roles in determining whether the enzyme has any enzymatic activity.

Keywords

Compositae,Docking,Homology modeling,Mutation,Stevia rebaudiana,Steviol glycoside,UGT76G1,

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