Simultaneous regulation of F5H in COMT-RNAi transgenic switchgrass alters effects of COMT suppression on syringyl lignin biosynthesis

Zhenying Wu, Nengfei Wang, Hiroshi Hisano, Yingping Cao, Fengyan Wu, Wenwen Liu, Yan Bao, Zeng Yu Wang, Chunxiang Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Ferulate 5-hydroxylase (F5H) catalyses the hydroxylation of coniferyl alcohol and coniferaldehyde for the biosynthesis of syringyl (S) lignin in angiosperms. However, the coordinated effects of F5H with caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (COMT) on the metabolic flux towards S units are largely unknown. We concomitantly regulated F5H expression in COMT-down-regulated transgenic switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) lines and studied the coordination of F5H and COMT in lignin biosynthesis. Down-regulation of F5H in COMT-RNAi transgenic switchgrass plants further impeded S lignin biosynthesis and, consequently, increased guaiacyl (G) units and reduced 5-OH G units. Conversely, overexpression of F5H in COMT-RNAi transgenic plants reduced G units and increased 5-OH units, whereas the deficiency of S lignin biosynthesis was partially compensated or fully restored, depending on the extent of COMT down-regulation in switchgrass. Moreover, simultaneous regulation of F5H and COMT expression had different effects on cell wall digestibility of switchgrass without biomass loss. Our results indicate that up-regulation and down-regulation of F5H expression, respectively, have antagonistic and synergistic effects on the reduction in S lignin resulting from COMT suppression. The coordinated effects between lignin genes should be taken into account in future studies aimed at cell wall bioengineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-845
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Panicum virgatum L.
  • caffeic acid O-methyltransferase
  • coordinated effects
  • ferulate 5-hydroxylase
  • lignin biosynthesis
  • switchgrass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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