Directed biosynthesis of alkaloid analogs in the medicinal plant Catharanthus roseus

Elizabeth McCoy, Sarah E O'Connor
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2006 November 8, 128 (44): 14276-7
Terpene indole alkaloids are plant natural products with diverse structures and biological activities. A highly branched biosynthetic pathway is responsible for the production of approximately 130 different alkaloids in Madagascar periwinkle (C. roseus) from a common biosynthetic intermediate derived from tryptamine. Although numerous biosynthetic pathways can incorporate unnatural starting materials to yield novel natural products, it was not clear how efficiently the complex, eukaryotic TIA pathway could utilize unnatural substrates to make new alkaloids. This work demonstrates that the TIA biosynthetic machinery can be used to produce novel alkaloid structures and also highlights the potential of this pathway for future metabolic engineering efforts.

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