Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 499–518 | Cite as

A functional genomics approach to (iso)flavonoid glycosylation in the model legume Medicago truncatula

  • Luzia V. Modolo
  • Jack W. Blount
  • Lahoucine Achnine
  • Marina A. Naoumkina
  • Xiaoqiang Wang
  • Richard A. Dixon


Analysis of over 200,000 expressed sequence tags from a range of Medicago truncatula cDNA libraries resulted in the identification of over 150 different family 1 glycosyltransferase (UGT) genes. Of these, 63 were represented by full length clones in an EST library collection. Among these, 19 gave soluble proteins when expressed in E. coli, and these were screened for catalytic activity against a range of flavonoid and isoflavonoid substrates using a high-throughput HPLC assay method. Eight UGTs were identified with activity against isoflavones, flavones, flavonols or anthocyanidins, and several showed high catalytic specificity for more than one class of (iso)flavonoid substrate. All tested UGTs preferred UDP-glucose as sugar donor. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the Medicago (iso)flavonoid glycosyltransferase gene sequences fell into a number of different clades, and several clustered with UGTs annotated as glycosylating non-flavonoid substrates. Quantitative RT-PCR and DNA microarray analysis revealed unique transcript expression patterns for each of the eight UGTs in Medicago organs and cell suspension cultures, and comparison of these patterns with known phytochemical profiles suggested in vivo functions for several of the enzymes.


Flavonoids Isoflavonoids Glycosylation Glycosyltransferase Regio-selectivity 



Expressed sequence tag


Family 1 uridine diphosphate glycosyltransferase


Methyl jasmonate


Yeast elicitor



We thank Drs Kiran Mysore and Rui Zhou for critical reading of the manuscript, Cuc Ly for assistance with artwork, Dr Michael Udvardi for sharing Affymetrix results for tissue-specific expression of Medicago UGTs, Klementina Kakar for providing primers for ubiquitin and actin, Dr Vagner A. Benedito for assistance with qRT-PCR, and Dr Yuhong Tang for assistance with microarray analysis. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Molecular Biochemistry Program (Grant # 0416833 to XW and RAD) and by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luzia V. Modolo
    • 1
  • Jack W. Blount
    • 1
  • Lahoucine Achnine
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marina A. Naoumkina
    • 1
  • Xiaoqiang Wang
    • 1
  • Richard A. Dixon
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Biology DivisionSamuel Roberts Noble FoundationArdmoreUSA
  2. 2.GenApps, Inc.WinchesterUSA

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