Pharmaceutically active compounds from medical plants are attractive as a major source for new drug development. Prenylated stilbenoids with increased lipophilicity are valuable secondary metabolites which possess a wide range of biological activities. So far, many prenylated stilbenoids have been isolated from Morus alba but the enzyme responsible for the crucial prenyl modification remains unknown. In the present study, a stilbenoid-specific prenyltransferase (PT), termed Morus alba oxyresveratrol geranyltransferase (MaOGT), was identified and functionally characterized in vitro. MaOGT recognized oxyresveratrol and geranyl diphosphate (GPP) as natural substrates, and catalyzed oxyresveratrol prenylation. Our results indicated that MaOGT shared common features with other aromatic PTs, e.g. multiple transmembrane regions, conserved functional domains and targeting to plant plastids. This distinct PT represents the first stilbenoid-specific PT accepting GPP as a natural prenyl donor, and could help identify additional functionally varied PTs in moraceous plants. Furthermore, MaOGT might be applied for high-efficiency and large-scale prenylation of oxyresveratrol to produce bioactive compounds for potential therapeutic applications.
Morus alba is an important medicinal plant that is used to treat human diseases. The leaf, branch, and root of Morus can be applied as antidiabetic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory medicines, respectively. To explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the various pharmacological functions within different parts of Morus, organ-specific proteomics were performed. Protein profiles of the Morus leaf, branch, and root were determined using a gel-free/label-free proteomic technique. In the Morus leaf, branch, and root, a total of 492, 414, and 355 proteins were identified, respectively, including 84 common proteins. In leaf, the main function was related to protein degradation, photosynthesis, and redox ascorbate/glutathione metabolism. In branch, the main function was related to protein synthesis/degradation, stress, and redox ascorbate/glutathione metabolism. In root, the main function was related to protein synthesis/degradation, stress, and cell wall. Additionally, organ-specific metabolites and antioxidant activities were analyzed. These results revealed that flavonoids were highly accumulated in Morus root compared with the branch and leaf. Accordingly, two root-specific proteins named chalcone flavanone isomerase and flavonoid 3,5-hydroxylase were accumulated in the flavonoid pathway. Consistent with this finding, the content of the total flavonoids was higher in root compared to those detected in branch and leaf. These results suggest that the flavonoids in Morus root might be responsible for its biological activity and the root is the main part for flavonoid biosynthesis in Morus.
Ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiation induces oxidative stress in plant cells due to the generation of excessive reactive oxygen species. Morus alba L. (M. abla) is an important medicinal plant used for the treatment of human diseases. Also, its leaves are widely used as food for silkworms. In our previous research, we found that a high level of UVB irradiation with dark incubation led to the accumulation of secondary metabolites in M. abla leaf. The aim of the present study was to describe and compare M. alba leaf transcriptomics with different treatments (control, UVB, UVB+dark). Leaf transcripts from M. alba were sequenced using an Illumina Hiseq 2000 system, which produced 14.27Gb of data including 153,204,462 paired-end reads among the three libraries. We de novo assembled 133,002 transcripts with an average length of 1270bp and filtered 69,728 non-redundant unigenes. A similarity search was performed against the non-redundant National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) protein database, which returned 41.08% hits. Among the 20,040 unigenes annotated in UniProtKB/SwissProt database, 16,683 unigenes were assigned 102,232 gene ontology terms and 6667 unigenes were identified in 287 known metabolic pathways. Results of differential gene expression analysis together with real-time quantitative PCR tests indicated that UVB irradiation with dark incubation enhanced the flavonoid biosynthesis in M. alba leaf. Our findings provided a valuable proof for a better understanding of the metabolic mechanism under abiotic stresses in M. alba leaf.