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PDC1, a pyruvate/α‐ketoacid decarboxylase, is involved in acetaldehyde, propanal and pentanal biosynthesis in melon (Cucumis melo L.) fruit

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Plant pyruvate decarboxylases (PDC) catalyze the decarboxylation of pyruvate to form acetaldehyde and CO2 and are well known to play a key role in energy supply via fermentative metabolism in oxygen‐limiting conditions. In addition to their role in fermentation, plant PDCs have also been hypothesized to be involved in aroma formation although, to date, there is no direct biochemical evidence for this function. We investigated the role of PDCs in fruit volatile biosynthesis, and identified a melon pyruvate decarboxylase, PDC1, that is highly expressed in ripe fruits. In vitro biochemical characterization of the recombinant PDC1 enzyme showed that it could not only decarboxylate pyruvate, but that it also had significant activity toward other straight‐ and branched‐chain α‐ketoacids, greatly expanding the range of substrates previously known to be accepted by the plant enzyme. RNAi‐mediated transient and stable silencing of PDC1 expression in melon showed that this gene is involved in acetaldehyde, propanal and pentanal production, while it does not contribute to branched‐chain amino acid (BCAA)‐derived aldehyde biosynthesis in melon fruit. Importantly, our results not only demonstrate additional functions for the PDC enzyme, but also challenge the long standing hypothesis that PDC is involved in BCAA‐derived aldehyde formation in fruit.
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Keywords: Cucumis melo; acetaldehyde; aroma; fruit ripening; pentanal; propanal; pyruvate decarboxylase; volatile compounds; α‐ketoacids

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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