Assessing functional diversity in the soybean β-substituted alanine synthase enzyme family

Hankuil Yi, Joseph M. Jez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In plants, proteins of the β-substituted alanine synthase (BSAS) enzyme family perform a diverse range of reactions, including formation of cysteine from O-acetylserine and sulfide, detoxification of cyanide by its addition to cysteine, the breakdown of cysteine into pyruvate, ammonia, and sulfide, and the synthesis of S-sulfocysteine. With the completed genome sequence of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr. cv. Williams 82), the functional diversity of the BSAS in this highly duplicated plant species was examined to determine whether soybean BSAS enzymes catalyze the various reactions connected to cysteine metabolism. The 16 soybean BSAS can be grouped into clades that are similar to those observed in Arabidopsis. Biochemical analysis of soybean BSAS proteins demonstrate that enzymes of clades I and III function as O-acetylserine sulfhydrylases for cysteine synthesis, clade II encodes cysteine desulfhydrase activity, and that clade V proteins function as β-cyanoalanine synthase for cyanide detoxification. Although clade IV is similar to Arabidopsis S-sulfocysteine synthase, this activity was not detected in the soybean homolog. Overall, our results show that bioinformatics approach provides a useful method to assess the biochemical properties of BSAS enzymes in plant species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • β-Substituted alanine synthase (BSAS)
  • Cysteine degradation
  • Cysteine synthesis
  • Enzyme family
  • Glycine max
  • Leguminosae
  • Metabolism
  • Soybean


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