Juvenile hormones have attracted attention as safe and selective targets for the design and development of environmentally friendly and biorational insecticides. In the juvenile hormone III biosynthetic pathway, the enzyme farnesol dehydrogenase catalyzes the oxidation of farnesol to farnesal. In this study, farnesol dehydrogenase was extracted from Polygonum minus leaves and purified 204-fold to apparent homogeneity by ion-exchange chromatography using DEAE-Toyopearl, SP-Toyopearl, and Super-Q Toyopearl, followed by three successive purifications by gel filtration chromatography on a TSK-gel GS3000SW. The enzyme is a heterodimer comprised of subunits with molecular masses of 65 kDa and 70 kDa. The optimum temperature and pH were 35°C and pH 9.5, respectively. Activity was inhibited by sulfhydryl reagents, metal-chelating agents and heavy metal ions. The enzyme utilized both NAD+ and NADP+ as coenzymes with Km values of 0.74 mM and 40 mM, respectively. Trans, trans-farnesol was the preferred substrate for the P. minus farnesol dehydrogenase. Geometrical isomers of trans, trans-farnesol, cis, trans-farnesol and cis, cis-farnesol were also oxidized by the enzyme with lower activity. The Km values for trans, trans-farnesol, cis, trans-farnesol and cis, cis-farnesol appeared to be 0.17 mM, 0.33 mM and 0.42 mM, respectively. The amino acid sequences of 4 tryptic peptides of the enzyme were analyzed by MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS spectrometry, and showed no significant similarity to those of previously reported farnesol dehydrogenases. These results suggest that the purified enzyme is a novel NAD(P)+-dependent farnesol dehydrogenase. The purification and characterization established in the current study will serve as a basis to provide new information for recombinant production of the enzyme. Therefore, recombinant farnesol dehydrogenase may provide a useful molecular tool in manipulating juvenile hormone biosynthesis to generate transgenic plants for pest control.
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