The in vitro metabolism of [1-14C]linoleate, [1-14C]linolenate and their 9(S)-hydroperoxides was studied in cell-free preparations from tulip (Tulipa gesneriana) bulbs, leaves and flowers. Linoleate and its 9-hydroperoxide were converted by bulb and leaf preparations into three ketols: (12Z)-9-hydroxy-10-oxo-12-octadecadienoic acid (α-ketol), (11E)-10-oxo-13-hydroxy-11-octadecadienoic acid (γ-ketol) and a novel compound, (12Z)-10-oxo-11-hydroxy-12-octadecadienoic acid (10,11-ketol), in the approximate molar proportions of 10:3:1. The corresponding 15,16-dehydro α- and γ-ketols were the main metabolites of [1-14C]linolenate and its 9-hydroperoxide. Thus bulbs and leaves possessed 9-lipoxygenase and allene oxide synthase activities. Incubations with flower preparations gave α-ketol hydro(pero)xides as predominant metabolites. Bulb and leaf preparations possessed a novel enzyme activity, γ-ketol reductase, which reduces γ-ketol to 10-oxo-13-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid (dihydro-γ-ketol) in the presence of NADH. Exogenous linolenate 13(S)-hydroperoxide was converted mostly into chiral (9S,13S)-12-oxo-10-phytodienoate (99.5% optical purity) by bulb preparations, while [1-14C]linolenate was a precursor for ketols only. Thus tulip bulbs possess abundant allene oxide cyclase activity, the substrate for which is linolenate 13(S)-hydroperoxide, even though 13(S)-lipoxygenase products were not detectable in the bulbs. The majority of the cyclase activity was found in the microsomes (105g pellet). Cyclase activity was not found in the other tissues examined, but only in the bulbs. The ketol route of the lipoxygenase pathway, mediated by 9-lipoxygenase and allene oxide synthase activities, has not been detected previously in the vegetative organs of any plant species.

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