Expression and Interaction Analysis among Saffron ALDHs and Crocetin Dialdehyde.


In saffron, the cleavage of zeaxanthin by means of CCD2 generates crocetin dialdehyde, which is then converted by an unknown aldehyde dehydrogenase to crocetin. A proteome from saffron stigma was released recently and, based on the expression pattern and correlation analyses, five aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) were suggested as possible candidates to generate crocetin from crocetin dialdehydes. We selected four of the suggested ALDHs and analyzed their expression in different tissues, determined their activity over crocetin dialdehyde, and performed structure modeling and docking calculation to find their specificity. All the ALDHs were able to convert crocetin dialdehyde to crocetin, but two of them were stigma tissue-specific. Structure modeling and docking analyses revealed that, in all cases, there was a high coverage of residues in the models. All of them showed a very close conformation, indicated by the low root-mean-square deviation (RMSD) values of backbone atoms, which indicate a high similarity among them. However, low affinity between the enzymes and the crocetin dialdehyde were observed. Phylogenetic analysis and binding affinities calculations, including some ALDHs from Gardenia jasmonoides, Crocus sieberi, and Buddleja species that accumulate crocetin and Bixa orellana synthetizing the apocarotenoid bixin selected on their expression pattern matching with the accumulation of either crocins or bixin, pointed out that family 2 C4 members might be involved in the conversion of crocetin dialdehyde to crocetin with high specificity.

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