Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.508, No.1, 320-325, 2019
Phenylephrine, a small molecule, inhibits pectin methylesterases
Pectin methylesterases (PMEs) catalyze pectin demethylation and facilitate the determination of the degree of methyl esterification of cell wall in higher plants. The regulation of PME activity through endogenous proteinaceous PME inhibitors (PMEIs) alters the status of pectin methylation and influences plant growth and development. In this study, we performed a PMEI screening assay using a chemical library and identified a strong inhibitor, phenylephrine (PE). PE, a small molecule, competitively inhibited plant PMEs, including orange PME and Arabidopsis PME. Physiologically, cultivation of Brassica campestris seedlings in the presence of PE showed root growth inhibition. Microscopic observation revealed that PE inhibits elongation and development of root hairs. Molecular studies demonstrated that Root Hair Specific 12 (RHS12) encoding a PME, which plays a role in root hair development, was inhibited by PE with a Ki value of 44.1 mu M. The biochemical mechanism of PE-mediated PME inhibition as well as a molecular docking model between PE and RHS12 revealed that PE interacts within the catalytic cleft of RHS12 and interferes with PME catalytic activity. Taken together, these findings suggest that PE is a novel and non-proteinaceous PME inhibitor. Furthermore, PE could be a lead compound for developing a potent plant growth regulator in agriculture. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.