Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 843–854

Maize glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase cDNA: a novel plant gene of detoxification

  • Judith Fliegmann
  • Heinrich SandermannJr.


We have previously shown that intact plants and cultured plant cells can metabolize and detoxify formaldehyde through the action of a glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase (FDH), followed by C-1 metabolism of the initial metabolite (formic acid). The cloning and heterologous expression of a cDNA for the glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase from Zea mays L. is now described. The functional expression of the maize cDNA in Escherichia coli proved that the cloned enzyme catalyses the NAD+- and glutathione (GSH)-dependent oxidation of formaldehyde. The deduced amino acid sequence of 41 kDa was on average 65% identical with class III alcohol dehydrogenases from animals and less than 60% identical with conventional plant alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) utilizing ethanol. Genomic analysis suggested the existence of a single gene for this cDNA. Phylogenetic analysis supports the convergent evolution of ethanol-consuming ADHs in animals and plants from formaldehyde-detoxifying ancestors. The high structural conservation of present-day glutathione-dependent FDH in microorganisms, plants and animals is consistent with a universal importance of these detoxifying enzymes.

alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme evolution formaldehyde detoxification glutathione-dependent formaldehyde dehydrogenase heterologous expression 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Fliegmann
    • 1
  • Heinrich SandermannJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.GSF – Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und GesundheitInstitut für Biochemische PflanzenpathologieOberschleissheimGermany
  2. 2.Botanisches Institut der UniversitätMünchenGermany

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