Umbelliferone and Esculetin: Inhibitors or Substrates for Polyphenol Oxidases?

Research Area: Uncategorized Year: 2008
Type of Publication: Article
  • Francesca Sollai
  • Paolo Zucca
  • Enrico Sanjust
  • Daniela Steri
  • Antonio Rescigno
Number: 12 Pages: 2187-2193
Month: December
ISSN: 0918-6158
Recently, an interesting debate arose about the nature (substrate versus inhibitor) of esculetin, a coumarin derivative, for mushroom polyphenol oxidase (PPO). The present study examined the behavior of PPOs preparations from fungal and plant origin towards esculetin as a substrate. Both enzymes were able to oxidize esculetin though at a slow rate. A higher sensitivity was reached when the assay was performed in the presence of 3-methyl-2-benzothiazolinone hydrazone (MBTH) even with a lower amount of PPO. These observations unambiguously confirmed that esculetin has to be considered a substrate for mushroom polyphenol oxidase. The oxidation of esculetin was also demonstrated for the first time by a fungal laccase. This should be taken into account because some mushroom PPO preparations could exert contaminant laccase activity. In addition, a PPO preparation from Ferula communis was demonstrated to use esculetin as a substrate. Umbelliferone, the monophenolic precursor of esculetin along the phenylpropanoid pathway, behaved as a competitive inhibitor for the monophenolase activity of mushroom PPO with a K(i) value = 0.014 mM. This is worth a mention because only a few couples of mono- and corresponding o-diphenol show such opposite behavior towards PPO. A possible role of PPO in the esculetin fate along biosynthesis pathway of coumarin derivatives is also discussed.
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