Background: Large proliferations of cytochrome P450 encoding genes resulting from gene duplications can be termed as 'blooms', providing genetic material for the genesis and evolution of biosynthetic pathways. Furanocoumarins are allelochemicals produced by many of the species in Apiaceaous plants belonging to the Apioideae subfamily of Apiaceae and have been described as being involved in the defence reaction against phytophageous insects. Results: A bloom in the cytochromes P450 CYP71AJ subfamily has been identified, showing at least 2 clades and 6 subclades within the CYP71AJ subfamily. Two of the subclades were functionally assigned to the biosynthesis of furanocoumarins. Six substrate recognition sites (SRS1-6) important for the enzymatic conversion were investigated in the described cytochromes P450 and display significant variability within the CYP71AJ subfamily. Homology models underline a significant modification of the accession to the iron atom, which might explain the difference of the substrate specificity between the cytochromes P450 restricted to furanocoumarins as substrates and the orphan CYP71AJ. Conclusion: Two subclades functionally assigned to the biosynthesis of furanocoumarins and four other subclades were identified and shown to be part of two distinct clades within the CYP71AJ subfamily. The subclades show significant variability within their substrate recognition sites between the clades, suggesting different biochemical functions and providing insights into the evolution of cytochrome P450 'blooms' in response to environmental pressures.
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- Cytochrome P450
- Gene duplication
- Plant-insect coevolution
- CYP71AJ subfamily
- Substrate recognition sites (SRSs)
- Pastinaca sativa