Biosynthetic pathway of terpenoid indole alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus

Xiaoxuan Zhu, Xinyi Zeng, Chao Sun, Shilin Chen
Frontiers of Medicine 2014, 8 (3): 285-93
Catharanthus roseus is one of the most extensively investigated medicinal plants, which can produce more than 130 alkaloids, including the powerful antitumor drugs vinblastine and vincristine. Here we review the recent advances in the biosynthetic pathway of terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs) in C. roseus, and the identification and characterization of the corresponding enzymes involved in this pathway. Strictosidine is the central intermediate in the biosynthesis of different TIAs, which is formed by the condensation of secologanin and tryptamine. Secologanin is derived from terpenoid (isoprenoid) biosynthetic pathway, while tryptamine is derived from indole biosynthetic pathway. Then various specific end products are produced by different routes during downstream process. Although many genes and corresponding enzymes have been characterized in this pathway, our knowledge on the whole TIA biosynthetic pathway still remains largely unknown up to date. Full elucidation of TIA biosynthetic pathway is an important prerequisite to understand the regulation of the TIA biosynthesis in the medicinal plant and to produce valuable TIAs by synthetic biological technology.

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