Phytoalexins from crucifers : probing detoxification pathways in Sclerotinia sclerotiorum
This thesis investigates two aspects of phytoalexin metabolism by the phytopathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib) de Bary: (i) determination of detoxification pathways of structurally different molecules; (ii) design and synthesis of potential inhibitors of enzyme(s) involved in detoxification steps.First, the transformations of important cruciferous phytoalexins by the economically important stem rot fungus, S. sclerotiorum, were investigated. During these studies a number of new metabolic products were isolated, their chemical structures were determined using spectroscopic techniques, and further confirmed by synthesis. The metabolic products did not show detectable antifungal activity against S. sclerotiorum which indicated that these metabolic transformations were detoxification processes. Overall, the results of these transformations suggested that S. sclerotiorum produces various enzymes that can detoxify cruciferous phytoalexins via different pathways. While the detoxifications of strongly and moderately antifungal phytoalexins such as brassilexin, sinalexin, and 1-methoxybrassinin were fast and led to glucosylated products, the transformations of the weakly antifungal phytoalexins brassicanal A, spirobrassinin and 1-methoxyspirobrassinin were very slow and yielded non-glucosylated compounds.Next, the design of potentially selective inhibitors of the brassinin detoxification enzyme, BGT, was sought. Two sets of potential inhibitors of BGT were designed: (i) a group was based on the structure of brassinin, where the indole ring of brassinin was replaced with benzofuran, thianaphthene, 7-azaindole and pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyridine and/or the position of side chain was changed from C-3 to C-2; and (ii) another group based on the structure of camalexin where the thiazole ring of camalexin was replaced with a phenyl group. The syntheses and chemical characterization of these potential detoxification inhibitors, along with their antifungal activity, as well as screening using fungal cultures and cell-free extracts of S. sclerotiorum, were examined. The results of these screening indicated that 3-phenylindoles, 3-phenylbenzofuran, 5-fluorocamalexin, methyl (indol-2-yl)methyl-dithiocarbamate, methyl (benzofuran-3-yl)methyldithiocarbamate and methyl (benzo-furan-2-yl)methyldithiocarbamate could slow down the rate of detoxification of brassinin in fungal cultures and also in cell-free extracts of S. sclerotiorum. Among the designed compounds, 3-phenylindole appeared to be the best inhibitor both in fungal cultures and in cell-free extracts. Metabolism studies of all the designed compounds using fungal cultures of S. sclerotiorum indicated that they were metabolized by S. sclerotiorum to glucosyl derivatives, although at much slower rates.It is concluded that some inhibitors that can slow down the rate of metabolism of brassinin could be good leading structures to design more active inhibitors of BGT.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorPedras, M. Soledade C.
CommitteePaige, Matthew F.; Majewski, Marek; Krol, Ed S.; Davis, Arthur R.