Choline Synthesis in Spinach in Relation to Salt Stress
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Choline metabolism was examined in spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) plants growing under nonsaline and saline conditions. In spinach, choline is required for phosphatidylcholine synthesis and as a precursor for the compatible osmolyte glycine betaine (betaine). When control (nonsalinized) leaf discs were incubated for up to 2 h with [1,2-14C]ethanolamine, label appeared in the N-methylated derivatives of phosphoethanolamine including phosphomono-, phosphodi-, and phosphotri- (i.e. phosphocholine) methyl-ethanolamine, as well as in choline and betaine, whereas no radioactivity could be detected in the mono- and dimethylated derivatives of the free base ethanolamine. Leaf discs from salinized plants showed the same pattern of labeling, although the proportion of label that accumulated in betaine was almost 3-fold higher in the salinized leaf discs. Enzymes involved in choline metabolism were assayed in crude leaf extracts of plants. The activites of ethanolamine kinase and of the three S-adenosylmethionine:phospho-base N-methyltransferase enzymes responsible for N-methylating phosphoethanolamine to phosphocholine were all higher in extracts of plants salinized step-wise to 100, 200, or 300 mM NaCI compared with controls. In contrast, choline kinase, phosphocholine phosphatase, and cytidine 5[prime]-triphosphate: phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase activities showed little variation with salt stress. Thus, the increased diversion of choline to betaine in salt-stressed spinach appears to be mediated by the increased activity of several key enzymes involved in choline biosynthesis.