Lignin and lignans are both derived from the monolignol pathway. Despite the similarity of their building blocks, they fulfil different functions in planta. Lignin strengthens the tissues of the plant, while lignans are involved in plant defence and growth regulation. Their biosyntheses are tuned both spatially and temporally to suit the development of the plant (water conduction, reaction to stresses). We propose to study the general molecular events related to monolignol-derived product biosynthesis, especially lignin. It was previously shown that the growing hemp hypocotyl (between 6 and 20 days after sowing) is a valid system to study secondary growth and the molecular events accompanying lignification. The present work confirms the validity of this system, by using it to study the regulation of lignin and lignan biosynthesis. Microscopic observations, lignin analysis, proteomics, together with in situ laccase and peroxidase activity assays were carried out to understand the dynamics of lignin synthesis during the development of the hemp hypocotyl.
Based on phylogenetic analysis and targeted gene expression, we suggest a role for the hemp dirigent and dirigent-like proteins in lignan biosynthesis. The transdisciplinary approach adopted resulted in the gene- and protein-level quantification of the main enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of monolignols and their oxidative coupling (laccases and class III peroxidases), in lignin deposition (dirigent-like proteins) and in the determination of the stereoconformation of lignans (dirigent proteins).
Our work sheds light on how, in the growing hemp hypocotyl, the provision of the precursors needed to synthesize the aromatic biomolecules lignin and lignans is regulated at the transcriptional and proteomic level.
Gene expression; Hemp; Hypocotyl; Laccase; Lignan; Lignin; Monolignols; Peroxidase; Proteomics