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The seco-iridoid pathway from Catharanthus roseus


Abstract

The (seco)iridoids and their derivatives, the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIAs), form two large families of plant-derived bioactive compounds with a wide spectrum of high-value pharmacological and insect-repellent activities. Vinblastine and vincristine, MIAs used as anticancer drugs, are produced by Catharanthus roseus in extremely low levels, leading to high market prices and poor availability. Their biotechnological production is hampered by the fragmentary knowledge of their biosynthesis. Here we report the discovery of the last four missing steps of the (seco)iridoid biosynthesis pathway. Expression of the eight genes encoding this pathway, together with two genes boosting precursor formation and two downstream alkaloid biosynthesis genes, in an alternative plant host, allows the heterologous production of the complex MIA strictosidine. This confirms the functionality of all enzymes of the pathway and highlights their utility for synthetic biology programmes towards a sustainable biotechnological production of valuable (seco)iridoids and alkaloids with pharmaceutical and agricultural applications.

Abstract

The (seco)iridoids and their derivatives, the monoterpenoid indole alkaloids (MIAs), form two large families of plant-derived bioactive compounds with a wide spectrum of high-value pharmacological and insect-repellent activities. Vinblastine and vincristine, MIAs used as anticancer drugs, are produced by Catharanthus roseus in extremely low levels, leading to high market prices and poor availability. Their biotechnological production is hampered by the fragmentary knowledge of their biosynthesis. Here we report the discovery of the last four missing steps of the (seco)iridoid biosynthesis pathway. Expression of the eight genes encoding this pathway, together with two genes boosting precursor formation and two downstream alkaloid biosynthesis genes, in an alternative plant host, allows the heterologous production of the complex MIA strictosidine. This confirms the functionality of all enzymes of the pathway and highlights their utility for synthetic biology programmes towards a sustainable biotechnological production of valuable (seco)iridoids and alkaloids with pharmaceutical and agricultural applications.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:04 Feb 2015 11:32
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:55
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms4606
PubMed ID:24710322

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