Molecular cloning of melatonin 2-hydroxylase responsible for 2-hydroxymelatonin production in rice (Oryza sativa)

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Although melatonin biosynthetic genes from plants have been cloned, the melatonin catabolism mechanisms remain unclear. To clone the genes responsible for melatonin metabolism, we ectopically expressed 35 full-length cDNAs of rice 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase (2-ODD) in Escherichia coli and purified the corresponding recombinant proteins. In vitro 2-ODD assays showed four independent 2-ODD proteins that were able to catalyze melatonin into 2-hydroxymelatonin, exhibiting melatonin 2-hydroxylase (M2H). These M2H proteins had peak activities at pH 8.0 and 30°C. The Km ranged from 121 μm to 371 μm with the Vmax ranging from 1.7 to 18.5 pkat/mg protein, respectively. The M2H enzyme activities were dependent on cofactors such as α-ketoglutarate, ascorbate, and Fe2+, similar to the 2-ODD enzymes. M2H activity was inhibited by prohexadione-Ca, an inhibitor of 2-ODD, in a dose-dependent manner. M2H activity was high in the roots of rice seedlings, concurrent with high transcription levels of 2-ODD 21, suggesting that 2-ODD 21 was a major gene for M2H activity. Analogous to the high M2H activity in the roots, 2-hydroxymelatonin was found in large quantities in roots treated with melatonin. These results suggest that melatonin was metabolized into 2-hydroxymelatonin by the M2H genes in plants, but the physiological significance of 2-hydroxymelatonin remains to be examined in the future.

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