Sheng Wu Gong Cheng Xue Bao. 2023 Jul 25;39(7):2818-2838. doi: 10.13345/j.cjb.230076.
Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) is the key entry enzyme of plant phenylpropanoid pathway. It plays an important role in the biosynthesis of podophyllotoxin, an anti-tumor lignan that is currently produced from its main natural source Sinopodophyllum hexandrum (Royle) Ying. In this study, we cloned the gene ShPAL encoding phenylalanine ammonia-lyase by RT-PCR from the root of S. hexandrum ecotype inhabited in the Aba’ district, Sichuan, based on its public SRA transcriptome data-package. Bioinformatics analyses showed that the ShPAL-encoded protein is composed of 711 amino acids, contains the conserved domains of PAL, and has the signature motif within the active center of aromatic ammonia-lyases. Moreover, ShPAL protein was predicted to have a secondary structure mainly composed of α-helix and random coil, a typical ‘seahorse’ shape monomer tertiary structure, and a homologous tetramer three-dimensional structure by Swiss-Modelling. The phylogenetic lineage analysis indicated ShPAL was of the highest sequence identity and the shortest evolutionary distance with the PAL of Epimedium sagittatum from the same Berberidaceae family. Subcellular localization experiments showed that ShPAL protein was mainly distributed in the cytoplasm, despite of a minority on the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Furthermore, ShPAL protein was recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by histidine-tag affinity chromatography. Its enzymatic activity was determined up to 20.91 U/mg, with the optimum temperature of 41 ℃ and pH of 9.0. In contrast, the enzyme activity of its F130H mutant decreased by about 23.6%, yet with the same trends of change with temperature and pH, confirming that phenylalanine at this position does affect the substrate specificity of PAL. Both the wild type and the mutant have relatively poor thermostability, but good pH-stability. These results may help to further investigate the regulatory role of PAL in the process of podophyllotoxin biosynthesis and advance the heterologous synthesis of podophyllotoxin to protect the germplasm resource of S. hexandrum. They also demonstrate that ShPAL has a potential application in biochemical industry and biomedicine.