The gene controlling the quantitative trait locus EPITHIOSPECIFIER MODIFIER1 alters glucosinolate hydrolysis and insect resistance in Arabidopsis

Zhiyong Zhang, James A Ober, Daniel J Kliebenstein
Plant Cell 2006, 18 (6): 1524-36
Glucosinolates are sulfur-rich plant secondary metabolites whose breakdown products have a wide range of biological activities in plant-herbivore and plant-pathogen interactions and anticarcinogenic properties. In Arabidopsis thaliana, hydrolysis by the enzyme, myrosinase, produces bioactive nitriles, epithionitriles, or isothiocyanates depending upon the plant's genotype and the glucosinolate's structure. A major determinant of this structural specificity is the epithiospecifier locus (ESP), whose protein causes the formation of epithionitriles and nitriles. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 3 epistatically affects nitrile formation in combination with ESP; this QTL has been termed EPITHIOSPECIFIER MODIFIER1 (ESM1). We identified a myrosinase-associated protein as the ESM1 QTL in Arabidopsis using map-based cloning with recombinant inbred lines, natural variation transcriptomic analysis, and metabolic profiling. In planta and in vitro analyses with natural ESM1 alleles, ESM1 knockouts, and overexpression lines show that ESM1 represses nitrile formation and favors isothiocyanate production. The glucosinolate hydrolysis profile change influenced by ESM1 is associated with the ability to deter herbivory by Trichoplusia ni. This gene could provide unique approaches toward improving human nutrition.

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