Violeta Díaz-Sánchez, Alejandro F. Estrada, M. Carmen Limón, Salim Al-Babili and Javier Avalos. The Oxygenase CAO-1 of Neurospora crassa Is a Resveratrol Cleavage Enzyme. Eukaryotic Cell. doi: 10.1128/EC.00084-13
The genome of the ascomycete Neurospora crassa encodes CAO-1 and CAO-2, two members of the carotenoid cleavage oxygenase family that target double bonds in different substrates. Previous studies demonstrated the role of CAO-2 in cleaving the C40 carotene torulene, a key step in the synthesis of the C35 apocarotenoid pigment neurosporaxanthin. In this work, we investigated the activity of CAO-1, assuming that it may provide retinal, the chromophore of the NOP-1 rhodopsin, by cleaving β-carotene. For this purpose, we tested CAO-1 activity with carotenoid substrates that were, however, not converted. In contrast and consistent with its sequence similarity to family members that act on stilbenes, CAO-1 cleaved the interphenyl Cα-Cβ double bond of resveratrol and its derivative piceatannol. CAO-1 did not convert five other similar stilbenes, indicating a requirement for a minimal number of unmodified hydroxyl groups in the stilbene background. Confirming its biological function in converting stilbenes, adding resveratrol led to a pronounced increase in cao-1 mRNA levels, while light, a key regulator of carotenoid metabolism, did not alter them. Targeted Δcao-1 mutants were not impaired by the presence of resveratrol, a phytoalexin active against different fungi, which did not significantly affect the growth and development of wild-type Neurospora. However, under partial sorbose toxicity, the Δcao-1 colonies exhibited faster radial growth than control strains in the presence of resveratrol, suggesting a moderate toxic effect of resveratrol cleavage products.