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Analysis of a Chemical Plant Defense Mechanism in Grasses

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Science  01 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5326, pp. 696-699
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5326.696

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Abstract

In the Gramineae, the cyclic hydroxamic acids 2,4-dihydroxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (DIBOA) and 2,4-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (DIMBOA) form part of the defense against insects and microbial pathogens. Five genes,Bx1 through Bx5, are required for DIBOA biosynthesis in maize. The functions of these five genes, clustered on chromosome 4, were demonstrated in vitro. Bx1 encodes a tryptophan synthase α homolog that catalyzes the formation of indole for the production of secondary metabolites rather than tryptophan, thereby defining the branch point from primary to secondary metabolism.Bx2 through Bx5 encode cytochrome P450–dependent monooxygenases that catalyze four consecutive hydroxylations and one ring expansion to form the highly oxidized DIBOA.

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